Friday, February 3, 2023

Outdoor Conditions (2/3): Northern NY under windchill warning through Sat., windchill temps -30°F to -45°F

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Special Weather Warning: (02/02) – A wind chill warning for northern New York is in effect from 1 a.m. Friday until 1 p.m. Saturday. Dangerously cold wind chills are expected, with wind chill temperatures reaching as low as -30°F to -45°F at base elevations. The dangerously cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

Conditions will be even more severe at higher elevations. Higher elevations will see stronger winds in the 30-40 mile per hour range and wind chill temperatures dipping into the -60°Fs. For reference, these conditions are more severe than what is forecast for the South Pole of Antarctica – please take these conditions seriously.

Parts of the northern Adirondacks will also see an arctic front bring heavy snow showers and possible snow squalls from 8 – 11 p.m. this evening (02/02). Brief heavy snow and blowing snow will result in near zero visibility and a quick coating of up to two inches of snowfall. Conditions may remain windy throughout the weekend.

Keep yourself and our first responders safe by postponing hikes and skis until temperatures rise and conditions stabilize. These conditions are dangerous for even the best prepared and experienced outdoorspeople when everything goes to plan. Accidents, injuries, or unplanned delays in these conditions could lead to extreme injury and even death. The mountains will be here – plan to visit another day.

Recent Notices:

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


High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Snow Report (02/02): The following report describes conditions as of Thursday, 02/02. Changing weather may affect conditions. There is 29.5 inches (approx. 2.5 feet) of snow at the Colden Caretaker Cabin and deeper accumulations at higher elevations. Snowshoes are required to be worn in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness. Microspikes and crampons are needed for traction on ice. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen – always exercise caution on or near ice. Avalanche pass ski trails are in good condition.
  • Long Lake and Forked Lake (Sargent Ponds Wild Forest, Blue Mountain Wild Forest, High Peaks Wilderness): Ice coverage on Forked Lake and Long Lake is not safe or reliable. There is open water on Forked Lake, especially where the Raquette River joins the lake. DEC has received reports of snowmobiles breaking through. Long Lake is also open and soft in spots. Both are weakest at the confluences but unsafe all around

General Notices

Know Before You Go Graphic

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

Know Before You Go (02/02):

  • Temperatures & Conditions: Please see the special weather warning above. Extremely cold temperatures and even colder wind chill temperatures are forecast for northern New York starting overnight tonight and continuing through Saturday. An arctic front will also bring additional snow to the region. Conditions will remain windy through Sunday, even once temperatures begin to rise. Remember that conditions will be more severe on summits and at higher elevations. Outdoor recreation in these temperatures is dangerous – please postpone trips. If you do need to venture outdoors, cover all exposed skin in warm layers and carry extra layers. Bring cold weather gear and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions. Bring microspikes, crampons, and snowshoes. If you find yourself unprepared for the conditions, or weather worsens, seek shelter and warmth immediately.
  • Water & Ice 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. Follow ice safety guidelines.
  • Sunrise/Sunset: Sunrise = 7:08 a.m.; Sunset = 5:09 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.

Be Safe in Avalanche Terrain: Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and all outdoor adventurers who may traverse slides or steep, open terrain should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions. If you are planning a trip to avalanche-prone territory, research the route ahead of time and contact a local DEC Forest Ranger for specific safety and conditions information, or contact a local guide. Before going into the backcountry, be equipped with avalanche safety tools and knowledge, such as participation in an avalanche safety course. Learn more about avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions.

Seasonal Roads: Many seasonal access roads are closed for the winter. Check the Recent Notices for specific 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 range from average to 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.

Let Go of Outdoor Plans – Stay Safe and Warm

“The cold never bothered me anyway” is a line you should not be singing this upcoming weekend when temperatures are predicted to hit well below zero. In fact, being exposed to the predicted windchill for even a short time can be detrimental. Take these necessary steps to ensure you are safe if you need to venture outside.

Prevent Frostbite: Frostbite is the freezing of living tissues that causes a breakdown of their cell structure. It may affect the extremities after prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. In this weekend’s temperatures, frostbite could occur in as little as 10 minutes. Prevent frostbite by limiting exposed skin and staying warm and dry. Wear a hat that covers your ears, a buff or facemask that covers your cheeks, nose, and chin, gloves or mittens that keep hands warm and dry, and wool or blended fabric socks. Goggles that cover and protect your eyes and the skin around them are also recommended.

Recognize the signs of Hypothermia: Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it, causing a dangerously low body temperature. If you or any member of your party begins to show signs of hypothermia, act fast. Get the person to shelter, rewarm them, make sure they’re in dry clothing, and let them rest. Encourage them to eat and drink warm beverages. If a person has reached severe hypothermia, seek immediate and professional help. Learn more about recognizing and avoiding hypothermia in DEC’s How to: Recognize and Avoid Hypothermia video.

“Let it go”: Let go of your hiking and skiing plans for the weekend and choose to stay safe and warm. Please remember: a cold weather rescue puts more lives in danger than just your own. Find other activities locally to enjoy.

Leave No TraceTM

Leave No Trace 2021 Partner Logo

Follow the Seven Principles of Leave No TraceTM 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!

Plan and Prepare by Checking the Weather

An important part of planning ahead and preparing for any season is checking the weather. This step is especially important in winter months when weather is a primary factor in deciding whether your activity will be safe. Snow, cold temperatures, wind, and wind chill are all weather conditions that could impact the safety of your experience. Before you get your heart set on a specific day or destination, check the weather. As you search for the forecast, remember to:

  • Check the forecast for your destination, not where you are starting from;
  • Check base elevation conditions as well as higher elevation and summit conditions, as they can differ significantly;
  • Look for any special weather warnings;
  • Use a reliable source and cross-reference between multiple sources if possible;
  • Check the weather for the day of your trip as well as the day before and that night. This will tell you what conditions to be prepared for during your trip as well as what existing conditions you may be walking into and what nighttime conditions you need to be prepared for should you find yourself spending an unexpected night in the woods.

Always heed weather warnings and remember that forecasts are not perfect – be prepared for unexpected and changing conditions. If the weather calls for extreme conditions, postpone your trip for another day.


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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.

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