Winter Storm Warnings are in effect throughout the Adirondack region from Thursday afternoon, Dec. 15 through Saturday, Dec. 17. Heavy snow is expected, with accumulations of up to 18 inches or more in some areas. Travel will be difficult, road conditions may be hazardous, and power outages are possible.
DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, Forest Rangers, Emergency Management staff and regional staff are on alert, monitoring the developing situation and actively patrolling areas and infrastructure impacted by severe weather. DEC is coordinating resource deployment with agency partners and all available assets are positioned to assist with any emergency response.
DEC advises backcountry users to be aware of and prepared for winter conditions. Winter hiking and skiing safety and preparedness are extremely important no matter your physical ability or destination. Properly preparing for winter conditions is essential for a safe, enjoyable experience. Check the Hike Smart NY 10 Essentials for a baseline packing list and review winter hiking safety.
During and immediately following periods of heavy snowfall, avoid open, exposed areas like bare summits and use extreme caution when traveling on or near open slopes. Snow squalls can obliterate vision and create slippery surfaces, and avalanches are possible in areas of steep, unstable terrain. Snow depths will range greatly depending on your location and elevation. Be prepared with proper traction devices, snowshoes or skis, and trekking poles for added balance. Visitors to the High Peaks Wilderness are reminded that snowshoes or skis are required to be worn where snow depths exceed 8 inches.
Even day trippers should be prepared to spend a night in the elements. This will help prevent hypothermia should you become lost or injured. Even successful search and rescue operations can take hours, and in winter conditions hypothermia can set in quickly. Bring extra layers, a space blanket, hand and foot warmers, an emergency shelter, and tools to start an emergency fire. Know the signs and symptoms of both hypothermia and frostbite as well as how to avoid them.
Backcountry visitors should follow these safety guidelines this weekend and always:
- Check weather before entering the woods. If extreme cold is predicted or the weather is poor, postpone the trip.
- Be aware of weather conditions at all times and if the weather worsens, head out of the woods.
- Dress properly in layers of clothing made of wool, fleece, and other materials that wick moisture (not cotton), including a wool or fleece hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outerwear, and winter boots.
- Carry a day pack with the following: ice axe, food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sunglasses, sunblock protection, ensolite pads, stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets. Hypothermia can kill even when temperatures are above freezing. A tiny emergency “space blanket” can save your life.
- Carry plenty of food and water. Eat, drink, and rest often. Being tired, hungry, or dehydrated makes outdoor adventurers more susceptible to hypothermia.
- Know the terrain and physical capabilities. Remember that it takes more time and energy to travel through snow.
- Never travel alone and always inform someone of the intended route and return time.
Region 5 Children’s Holiday Party Postponed to Monday, Dec. 19
DEC’s Region 5 Children’s Holiday Party at the regional headquarters in Ray Brook has been rescheduled from Friday, Dec. 16 to Monday, Dec. 19, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in anticipation of the incoming snowstorm. Significant snowfall between Thursday night and Saturday could create hazardous driving conditions. The decision to postpone was made out of an abundance of caution for visiting families and their children.
At Monday’s event, attendees can meet Santa and Smokey Bear, enjoy complimentary refreshments, and participate in a variety of activities including face painting and coloring. The DEC Region 5 headquarters are located at 1115 NY Route 86, Ray Brook, NY 12977. The event will take place in the building’s lobby and main conference room. Please park in the lot directly in front of the building and enter through the front doors. The event is free and open to all members of the public. No RSVP is required.
Photo at top: DEC photo.