Deep freeze sets in

SARANAC LAKE – Get ready for a cold, cold week.

As it turns out, that 50-degree weekend that wiped out the Adirondacks’ 2 feet-plus of snow was just the annual January thaw – a passing phenomenon, not a repeat of last year’s non-winter. Now serious January weather is back in action.

The National Weather Service says today’s high temperature will be in the single digits, and tonight it will drop to 25 degrees below zero with possible 40-below wind-chill factor out at the Lake Clear airport – the coldest place in the region. In the valley towns of Keene and Jay, the hot spots in the Enterprise’s coverage area, it’s expected to drop to minus 12.

Wednesday’s high will be below zero for most of the area, and Wednesday night’s predicted low ranges from minus 16 in Jay and Keene to minus 27 at the Lake Clear airport, the NWS says.

By Friday and Saturday, highs throughout the region are expected to be in the mid-teens, with overnight lows in the single digits below zero. Overnight lows won’t break above zero until Sunday night, and Monday’s high is predicted to be a comparatively balmy 27.

Good for Ice Palace

The weather bodes well for Saranac Lake’s Winter Carnival, which will run from Feb. 1 to 10. The 119-year-old festival features a towering Ice Palace made by locals and prison inmates with blocks cut from Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay. As of last week, the thaw had weakened the ice, with some sandwiching of water between ice layers, but “that’s kind of all filled in now,” according to palace construction coordinator Dean Baker. “It’s a lot more solid than it was a week ago. We have a solid 8 inches.”

They like to have at least 12 inches of ice before they cut blocks. Could they get that with one or two 20-below nights?

“Well, that’s what most people don’t quite understand,” Baker said. “It doesn’t usually grow more than an inch a night, because the ice sitting on top acts as an insulator.”

Nevertheless, with the whole week being so cold and volunteers plowing the ice regularly to keep snow from insulating it, Baker hopes to start cutting blocks by the end of the week – a week ahead of the Carnival’s start date.