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Cold cancels two upstate winter festivals ; 20 below expected near Lake Ontario

Organizers were canceling winter festivals and meteorologists were warning residents in some parts of New York to stay inside as a blast of arctic weather took aim at the Northeast.

Temperatures were expected to plummet to minus-20 along the Lake Ontario shore and minus-15 along the New York-Pennsylvania border, said Mike Pukajlo, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Buffalo. New York City will see temperatures in the mid-teens.

The culprit is a Canadian clipper, a cold air mass moving into the United States from the province of Alberta, Pukajlo said.

In upstate New York, the Special Olympics rescheduled this weekend's regional winter sports competition because of the cold.

"Some of the athletes don't realize when they're getting cold, so we want to look out for their safety," said Margaret Martin, a spokeswoman for the West Mountain Ski Resort in Queensbury, which hosts the event near Glens Falls.

The competition was rescheduled for March 5. It's the first time in recent memory that the event has been pushed back, Martin said.

In Mannsville, near Watertown, organizers canceled all events in Saturday's Winona Forest Winterfest except a snowshoe race, according to a statement on the festival website. The festival was supposed to include a snowman-building contest, snow sculpting, dogsledding and other events.

Temperatures there were expected to drop to minus 3 on Saturday night and minus 19 tonight.

"We didn't want to put those people in jeopardy," said festival organizer Carolyn Rees. "It really would not be a whole heck of a lot of fun for kids to be out in those temperatures."

Upstate New York could see 2 to 3 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said. In New York City, the skies should be mostly sunny with little wind, said Gary Conte, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton, on Long Island.

Residents should wear several layers of warm clothing and stay inside if possible, Conte said.

Temperatures will rise beginning Tuesday, but an influx of more humid air from the south will likely bring snowstorms around Wednesday, he said.

Meanwhile, snow was piling up Saturday on North Carolina beaches, and forecasters were warning residents along the rest of the East Coast to be prepared for more snow.

National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Frederick said a strengthening storm system pulling off the Atlantic Coast threw back some heavy snow on North Carolina, with up to 6 inches falling on coastal areas north of Wilmington.

Frederick said three inches of snow or more could fall on the Outer Banks.

Flurries from the storm were reported as far south as Charleston, S.C.

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