Friday, December 23, 2022

Outdoor Conditions (12/23): Hazardous weather, icy conditions expected through Saturday

outdoor conditions logo

The following are only the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry webpages for a full list of notices, including seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information

NEW THIS WEEK

High Peaks Wilderness Snow Report (12/21): PLEASE NOTE: The following report describes conditions as of Wednesday, 12/21. Hazardous weather conditions expected Thursday evening into Saturday will completely change conditions in the High Peaks Wilderness. Please see the special weather warning below for more information. There is 35cm of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin, with exposed rock and ice at higher elevations. Conditions now require snowshoes to be worn in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Microspikes and crampons are needed. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake have open areas around moving water and dams – use caution on any ice.

Special Weather Warning

Serious Weather Warning Alert

Hazardous weather is forecast to begin in the evening Thursday, Dec. 22, and continue through early Saturday, Dec. 24, bringing rain, snow, high winds, and extremely cold temperatures to much of the Adirondacks, including the High Peaks Region.

Rain, snow, and high winds are expected to begin Thursday night. Temperatures will rise into the mid-40s Friday as rain, snow, and strong winds continue. Wind gusts of nearly 50 mph are expected at base elevations and near hurricane-force gusts are expected at high elevations. Temperatures will then drop sharply into the single digits on Friday evening, with rain returning to snow and wind chills in the negatives. Saturday will remain cold and gusty.

These variable conditions are expected to bring significant snowmelt that, combined with rain and new snow, will swell waterways. Expect icy conditions to follow. Conditions will be even more severe at high elevations. Prolonged exposure to this type of weather can be life-threatening. The mountains will wait – be safe and help keep our Rangers safe by postponing backcountry trips until conditions improve. (This is the latest forecast as of 2:00 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22)

 

Moose River Plains Complex: The Moose River Plains are open to snowmobiling. Public motor vehicle access is not permitted at this time. Camping at interior sites is permitted, but sites must be accessed via snowmobile or by snowshoeing or skiing in.

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest:

  • No waterbodies are safe to cross.
  • Snowmobile trail C8A from Newcomb south to Indian Lake is open.
  • The spur trail ESSE50 (Newcomb to Long Lake) remains closed due to ground conditions – a stretch of wet area has not frozen yet and is not rideable.
  • The Campsite Road gate (Santanoni Lake Harris Connector Trail) is open. Please note: there will be intermittent vehicle traffic and hazard tree removal in the campground. Riders should expect areas of active work. Stay on the north side of the road.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest:

  • No waterbodies are safe to cross.
  • Snowmobile trail C8A from Newcomb south to Indian Lake is open.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts): The Stillwater Mountain Fire Tower trail reopened Dec. 21.

Grass River Wild Forest (includes Grass River, Long Pond, Sevey’s, and Tooley Pond Conservation Easement Tracts):

  • Recent snow has allowed some snowmobiling opportunities to open in St. Lawrence County. Changing weather and surface conditions are creating some challenges early in the season – please check with local snowmobile clubs and other media/sources before heading out on the trails.
  • Early winter logging operations are affecting snowmobile trails in St. Lawrence County.
    • There are active harvests on the Grass River and Tooley Pond CEs. Please be aware of operations and trail conditions and follow signage in these areas, including the Ticket Trail (S80B).
    • There are active harvests on the Seveys CE. Please be advised that all trails north of NYS Route 3 are closed.

Raquette Boreal Complex:

  • Recent snow has allowed some snowmobiling opportunities to open in St. Lawrence County. Changing weather and surface conditions are creating some challenges early in the season – please check with local snowmobile clubs and other media/sources before heading out on the trails.
  • Early winter logging operations are affecting snowmobile trails in St. Lawrence County.
    • Please be aware of operations and follow signage for ongoing harvests on the Conifer-Emporium CE.

Speculator Tree Farm Perkins Clearing: All roads within the unit are closed to public motor vehicles. Snowmobile trail openings will be weather dependent. The most up-to-date openings can be found on local club websites.

Corinth Edinburg Conservation Easement: Snowmobile trail openings will be weather dependent. The most up-to-date openings can be found on local club websites.

Lake Desolation Conservation Easement:

  • The road to Archer Vly is closed to motor vehicles for the season.
  • Snowmobiling update: S84B will be a shared-use route – expect to encounter log trucks. There is a 15mph limit. Please provide log trucks and equipment the right-of-way and space to maneuver. The most up-to-date snowmobile openings can be found on local club websites. Openings will be weather dependent.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The gate on Creek Road is open to allow for snowmobile access.

LAST WEEK

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: Powley Road is closed to motor vehicle traffic for the winter. The gates will open for snowmobile season when adequate snowpack accumulates.

Silver Lake Wilderness: West River Road, which provides access to the Whitehouse trailhead of the Northville Placid Trail, will remain unmaintained and unplowed for the winter season.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts):

  • Water has been turned off at the Otter Creek Assembly Area.
  • Otter Creek Horse Trails: Horses are not permitted on designated snowmobile trails that are covered with ice or snow.

Moose River Plains Complex: The Bug Lake and 7th Lake Mountain trail gates are open for the season. As of Thursday, snow conditions are poor, though more snow is forecast.

Essex Chain Lakes Complex & Blue Mountain Wild Forest: Gates are now closed on Deer Pond Road, Cornell Road, Camp Six Road, and Chain Lakes Road North.

Camp Santanoni Historic Area: Newcomb Lake Road is now skiable.

Lake George Wild Forest: The Dacy Clearing gate in Shelving Rock is now closed. It will reopen when there is sufficient snowpack for snowmobiles.


General Notices

Know Before You Go Graphic

Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry page for more trip-planning resources.

Know Before You Go (12/22):

  • Temperatures & Conditions: Highly variable weather is forecast for the coming weekend. High wind warnings begin Thursday night for much of the Adirondacks and continue through Friday and Saturday. Cold and snow on Thursday will give way to a mixture of rain and snow and temperatures in the mid-40s during the day on Friday. Temperatures will then plummet to single digits on Friday night. Flood watches are in effect due to rain and snowmelt on Friday and Saturday. High elevation and summit conditions will be even more severe, with wind gusts reaching near-hurricane speeds. Backcountry visitors are encouraged to postpone hikes until conditions stabilize. When you do head out, carry extra layers, cold weather gear, and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions. Microspikes or crampons and snowshoes will be necessary. If you find yourself unprepared for the conditions, or weather worsens, turn back to the trailhead.
  • Water crossings: Never attempt to cross high, fast-moving water, especially following rain or significant snowmelt. If there is precipitation forecast during the day, be mindful of how water crossings might swell between your first crossing and your return trip. Do not trust ice to hold your weight, especially over moving water.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:28 a.m.; Sunset = 4:21 p.m. Make a timeline and stick to it. Pack a headlamp even if you expect to finish your activity before sunset.
  • Travel: Plan on arriving at your destination early and have several back-up plans in place in case parking at your desired location is full. Some seasonal roads may be closed for the winter season and not all parking areas are plowed. Check recent notices for road closure announcements.

Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for select summit forecasts. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures and remember that temperatures will drop as you gain elevation.

Seasonal Roads: Due to recent snow, some seasonal access roads are beginning to close. Check the Recent Notices for closure announcements and be prepared to turn around and take an alternate route.

Snowmobiles: Visitors are advised to plan ahead and check local club, county, and State webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

Water Conditions: Water levels throughout the Adirondack region are average or above average for this time of year. Check the USGS Current Water Data for New York for stream flow of selected waters. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs aka lifejackets) are strongly recommended.


Safety & Education

Winter Hike Smart NY Poster

Whether you’re going for a hike, a ski, or out fishing, Hike Smart NY can help you prepare with a list of 10 essentials, guidance on what to wear, and tips for planning your trip with safety and sustainability in mind.

A Ranger Rescue Story: Algonquin Rescue

When it comes to outdoor recreation, we learn a lot from successful excursions and the days that go right. We can also learn a lot from the days when things go wrong.

After a harrowing night on Algonquin Mountain, Joe “Dmytri” Gutch is sharing his experience of a winter hike gone badly. Hear how broken gear, hypothermia, and worsening winter weather on a solo ascent of Algonquin led to a potentially life-threatening situation and ultimately a successful rescue in this video highlight.


Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace 2021 Partner Logo

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace to maintain minimal impact on the environment and the natural resources of the Adirondacks. Use proper trail etiquette to ensure an enjoyable experience for yourself and others and tread lightly!

Planning Ahead and Preparing in Winter

It’s important to Plan Ahead and Prepare year-round, but these steps are even more important for making your winter adventures safe and enjoyable.

Plan your time – Everything takes a little bit longer in the winter; packing, getting to the trailhead, hiking through snow, and even using the bathroom on trail. Be sure to account for this when you plan your day. Check sunrise/sunset times, set and stick to a turnaround time, and leave extra time as a safety net.

Check the conditions – Conditions can vary significantly in winter months from place to place, day to day, and even at different elevations. Check the weather for the day of and after your hike as well as recent conditions reports to determine whether or not your hike is a good fit for the weather. Make sure you are prepared for prolonged exposure or unexpected overnights should anything go wrong.

Pack extras – Extra gear is necessary for staying safe and comfortable on a winter hike. You will need skis, snowshoes, and traction devices to travel on trail; extra layers, hats, and gloves to keep you warm; extra food and water; multiple sources of light; and more. Review the Hike Smart NY 10 Essentials for a list of items to bring.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.




2 Responses

  1. Jeffrey L Weaver says:

    35cm ?

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