By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — SARANAC LAKE — Winter Storm Nemo prompted many North Country schools to announce Friday closures today, a rare measure in a region accustomed to snow and cold.
Preparations were under way in every community for impending Nemo, a name that seemed to go along perfectly with the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival “Under the Sea” theme this year.
In keeping with the tradition of toughness, the outdoor movies on the carnival schedule, set for 6 to 7 p.m. today in Saranac Lake’s Berkeley Green, would roll regardless of the weather, organizers said Thursday in a press release, unless “it is snowing so hard the videos can’t be projected onto the screen.”
“It’s a crazy idea,” Village Trustee and Carnival Committee member Barb Rice said of outdoor movies in February, “but we thought that if there is one place where a winter outdoor movie would actually work and people would actually brave the cold, it’s Saranac Lake.”
Planned are a collection of short family friendly videos instead of a full-length movie so the audience can drop in for short intervals. An open fire will be handy for roasting marshmallows, and hot chocolate will be served to help ward off the cold — the forecast for today is a high of 18 degrees.
“Despite rumors swirling about like a tidal whirlpool, all Saranac Lake Winter Carnival events will go on as planned, even with Winter Storm Nemo lurking in the Atlantic waters,” Winter Carnival Chairman Jeff Dickson said in a statement.
“Yet we certainly caution people to travel with care. We want everyone to arrive in Saranac Lake safely.”
SNOW, WIND, COLD
Nemo is poised to drop anywhere from 8 to a possible 16 inches of snow throughout the North Country, with higher amounts possible.
The National Weather Service sent alerts saying snow would start falling in northern New York at around 10 p.m. tonight and spread east. Area roads are expected to become hazardous after midnight and remain slick, especially during today’s commutes.
Snow could fall as fast as 1 inch per hour.
Add to that winds blowing at 10 to 20 miles an hour with gusts to 35, and there was potential for white-out driving conditions. Visibility would be less than half a mile in heavier snow, the Weather Service advised.
A concern in the Adirondacks is that wind chills could drop air temperatures to minus 17 Fahrenheit on Saturday, meaning the threat of frostbite is high.
But in Lake Placid, the Empire State Winter Games were on and no delays announced as of Thursday. The Luge World Cup races also would also be held as scheduled, organizers said.
The mountain crews at Whiteface Resort and other nearby ski areas were jumping for joy, this being the first major powder of 2013.
The Titus Mountain website posted “Snow is Coming” in giant letters across the top page.
But elsewhere, organizations, state offices, schools and other groups were adjusting to expected wild weather.
Numerous cancellations and postponements flew via email on Thursday, among them, on Friday, Project CONNECT, the after-school program in Plattsburgh City Schools and the Bluegrass Gospel Project concert at the Peru Community Church Coffeehouse.
All Civil Service exams set for Saturday, including at Saranac Lake High School were postponed, with the date changed to Feb. 16.
SUNY Plattsburgh canceled the Omicron Delta Kappa Circle Leadership Society conference slated to bring students from 14 area high schools on Saturday.
The Wild Center in Tupper Lake won’t put on its Saturday Adirondack Ice presentation, but the museum would remain open, a press release said.
And North Country Cultural Center for the Arts in Plattsburgh canceled the “Encore” senior citizen/Girl Scout exhibition opening for this weekend. There will be a closing reception at 5:30 p.m. March 8 instead.
In Saranac Lake, while Dickson remained confident that the carnival would weather Nemo unscathed, he did say any cancellation of carnival events would be posted at www.saranaclakewintercarnival.com.
New York State Electric and Gas made storm preparations throughout the region Thursday, including sending out reminders for safety should people lose power.
▶ Keep flashlights, a battery-powered radio or TV and fresh batteries handy.
▶ Have at least one telephone that is not dependent on electricity, as cordless phones won’t work during a power interruption.
▶ Keep a supply of nonperishable food and bottled water on hand.
▶ Make sure cellphone batteries are fully charged.
Email Kim Smith Dedam: email@example.com