Press-Republican

January 4, 2014

Brrrisk business on the mountains

KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Slick roads kept police and emergency responders busy Friday morning in the wake of a snowfall accompanied by arctic air.

But skiers seemed to love the soft, feathery powder that comes with cold air.

A winter storm that passed through Thursday brought several inches of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

By Friday morning, the sun was shining, but the cold — and ice — was unrelenting.

Two rollover accidents were reported within minutes of each other around 9:15 a.m. Friday on Route 11 in Champlain. Ambulances and State Police were dispatched, but it appeared the occupants escaped serious injury.

Temperature fluctuations are expected in the next few days. Overnight Friday, wind-chills of 24-below were predicted, but it will warm up to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit today and then be in the 30s Sunday and Monday.

‘LOTS OF SAND, SALT’

Westport Town Supervisor Daniel Connell said their Highway Department was prepared for the storm.

“We came through fine. It was lots of man-hours and lots of sand and salt. We were able to keep up with it. No major breakdowns. I consider us fortunate.”

He said the main issue now is below-zero temperatures freezing pipes and engines.

“It’s not warming up. It was 34 below zero here with wind chill factored in,” he said Friday afternoon.

Main Street in Port Henry was closed for a period Thursday night because big trucks couldn’t make it up the hill northbound by the Stewart’s Shop.

DOT crews were called to plow the road so the tractor trailers could continue up and it could reopen.

SEASONED SKI STAFF

Skiing at Whiteface Mountain Resort remained steady in spite of the cold.

But Whiteface condition reports Friday warned skiers to “dress in layers” and “keep all skin covered to avoid frostbite.”

Four inches of new snow had fallen on the mountain, which reported 55 of 88 trails open on its 42nd day of operation this winter.

Olympic Regional Development Authority spokesman Jon Lundin said that by early afternoon Friday, it had reached a high of minus 6 degrees Fahrenheit at the base of the mountain.

Wind speeds were reported at 16 miles per hour, delivering a brutal wind-chill calculation to about minus 26 degrees.

Mountain crews are prepared for days like this, Lundin said.

“Our staff is very seasoned and they understand the extreme weather conditions and prepare for it accordingly.

“The cold has not affected the mountain’s ticket sales the last two days,” he said, “and it is expected to warm this weekend, which is welcome. This Sunday is Island Madness Super Sunday, with $40 adult lift tickets.”

RETAILERS WARNED

The North Country was not hit as hard as other areas of the state. The impact was expected to be so severe in some places that Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared an official state of emergency on Thursday.

On Friday, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued an open letter to vendors, warning against price gouging.

He pointed out that General Business Law prohibits increases in costs of essential items, such as food, water, gas, generators, batteries and flashlights, and services, such as tree trimming and removal, emergency structure repairs and snowplowing, during natural disasters or other events that disrupt the market.

“Unfortunately, alongside acts of good will and kindness, a major storm like this also brings out bad actors who take advantage of their customers,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“As attorney general, it’s my responsibility to enforce the price-gouging law and be prepared to take action.

“I urge anyone who sees unwarranted spikes in the costs of anything, from bread and milk to snowplowing services, to report it to my office immediately.”

People can file complaints at this web address: http://www.ag.ny.gov/complaint-forms.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com