LAKE PLACID - Many local schools are closed or have early dismissal due to an impending storm expected to drop 12 to 20 inches of snow in the region as the National Weather Service has added a blizzard warning for Essex County.
All campuses of North Country Community College are closed today. So is the AuSable Valley Central School District.
Saranac Lake, Lake Placid and Keene schools dismissed early, before the snowstorm's expected arrival this afternoon, but they will all dismiss at different times.
Snow falls at the Lake Placid Elementary School Tuesday morning before the students were sent home early.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)
Lake Placid Middle/High school closed at 10:30 a.m., and the elementary school closed at 11:15 a.m.
The St. Agnes Elementary School in Lake Placid closed at 11:15 a.m.
Keene Central School dismissed at noon.
Saranac Lake Middle and High Schools dismissed students at 10:30 a.m., and the district's elementary schools dismissed at 11:30.
Paul Smith's College is on mid-semester recess this week.
State police and National Weather Service officials are advising motorists in parts of upstate New York to avoid unnecessary travel during today's storm that's expected to dump as much as 2 feet of snow in some areas of the state and 12 to 20 inches in the Adirondacks.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a statewide state of emergency Monday evening, starting at midnight, and directed non-essential state employees impacted by the winter storm to stay home from work today.
In the Tri-Lakes region of the Adirondack Park, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning until 8 p.m. Wednesday, with heavy snow anticipated for the Champlain Valley of Vermont and northeastern New York, including the Adirondack Mountains and foothills.
In addition, a blizzard warning has been issued for Essex County, including Lake Placid, and northern Franklin County until 11 a.m. Wednesday, with accumulations of snow from 12 to 20 inches. The blizzard warning includes Clinton, Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties, the Capital District around Albany and all of the Champlain Valley in New York and Vermont.
The snow is expected to become heavy at times during the afternoon and through the night. Steady snow will continue through Wednesday evening.
With sustained winds of 10 to 20 mph and gusts up to 35 mph, motorists can expect hazardous winter driving conditions due to snow-covered roads, low visibility and blowing and drifting snow, creating near-whiteout conditions at times. Visibility will be down to one quarter mile or less at times.
High temperatures will be in the lower 20s with lows 8 to 13 above.
The heaviest snow accumulations are expected south and east of the Capital Region, in the Mohawk Valley and in the Mid-Hudson Valley region, where 20 to 24 inches of snow are expected from late tonight through late tonight, tapering off Wednesday.
At the governor's direction, state agencies have already pre-positioned personnel, assets and stockpile resources - including sandbags, generators and pumps - to areas where the storm will be at its strongest.
With the storm approaching, the governor urged commuters to drive with caution for the Tuesday morning and afternoon commutes, and to avoid unnecessary travel. Motorists, especially tractor-trailers, should be prepared for road closures across the state.
"We remain in constant contact with local officials in every region, as New York prepares to aggressively clear roads, provide personnel and storm equipment as needed, and offer immediate assistance to communities across the state," Cuomo said in a press release. "I strongly urge everyone to limit unnecessary travel on Tuesday, and if you must drive, please plan ahead, be careful, and stay safe."
Motorists are reminded to check 511NY by calling 511 or visiting www.511ny.org before traveling. The free service allows users to check road conditions and transit information. Mobile users can download the free 511NY mobile app from the iTunes or Google Play stores. The app features Drive mode, which provides audible alerts along a chosen route while a user is driving, warning them about incidents and construction. Users can set a destination prior to departing and receive information on up to three routes.