Where agriculture is concerned, dairy is king (or is dairy queen?) in Northern New York. But with the kind of winter we’ve had so far, I wonder if we shouldn’t start producing other crops, ones particularly suited to our region. How about we raise snow peas? Or iceberg lettuce?
OK, so I’m indulging one of life’s most futile activities, griping about the weather, but for farmers, foresters and gardeners, there is an upside to all this snow. » Continue Reading.
Who hasn’t marveled at a lacy snowflake coming to rest on a jacket sleeve? Do you wonder how it could survive the fall to earth in one piece, or if it’s really true that no two snowflakes can look exactly alike?
A snowflake begins high up in the clouds, not as a snowflake but as a small particle of dust, salt, or ash. When a cloud cools below 32°F, some specks of water vapor freeze onto the particle. As it moves through the cloud, the particle absorbs additional water vapor, building up microscopic layers of ice. When water molecules freeze, they bond together in a way that forms a six-sided ice crystal. » Continue Reading.
About a year ago on these pages, I shared a secret “illness”—snow shoveling—that has been with me since childhood. Besides the interesting and very funny comments that followed on Adirondack Almanack, personal emails arrived from those similarly afflicted. I did mention that more would come in the future, so here goes. Shoveling and keeping a 1500-foot path open for a decade of winters was the highlight of last year’s piece. That probably can’t be topped, but there is more insanity to report. » Continue Reading.
Every animal must develop its own way of dealing with winter. Migrate, hibernate, or insulate; these are common strategies. For a few small mammals, survival depends on the snow itself, and the deeper the better.
The subnivean zone is the area between the surface of the ground and the bottom of the snowpack. The word subnivean comes from the Latin “sub” (under) and “nives” (snow). Mice, voles, and shrews retreat here for protection from cold temperatures, bitter winds, and hungry predators. Food is right at hand: grass, leaves, bark, seeds, and insects are free and unfrozen. Under the snow, these tiny mammals create long tunnel systems complete with air shafts to the surface above. » Continue Reading.
Essex County Officials have asked NYSEG to request more crews in addition to the 30 trucks already on the job. NYSEG Representatives have stated that they have, and there are 25-30 more crew on their way… and that the New York State Emergency Management Office and the Governor’s Office have been continuously advised of power outages.
– Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas in an e-mail residents December 11th.
The “Beep-Beep” woke me up. Then again “Beep-Beep.” I knew what that meant. It was the notification mechanism on our smoke detectors designed to send a warning signal indicating no electric power. This did not surprise me since a snowstorm had been predicted. It was still dark this Wednesday morning. I went back to sleep, unconcerned, having weathered many power-outages before. » Continue Reading.
Standing next to a small, unnamed stream near where it empties into Mountain Pond on a cool September day, scientist Dan Kelting reads a sensor he just dipped in the water to measure electrical conductivity, which is used to gauge road-salt concentrations.
Pure water is a poor conductor of electricity, but road salt, or sodium chloride, increases conductivity. Based on the conductivity reading (285 microsiemens per centimeter), Kelting calculates that the water contains 80 milligrams of chloride per liter. This means the stream contains roughly 160 times more chloride than a similar size stream a few miles away.
Why the difference? The stream near Mountain Pond, north of Paul Smith’s College, is downstream from Route 30, a state highway that is heavily salted in the winter. The other stream, which Kelting refers to as Smitty Brook, runs through the Forest Preserve and is upstream of roads. » Continue Reading.
Whiteface and Gore mountain ski areas will be open Sunday, November 16th, the second year in a row the Whiteface has opened before their planned start date. Lift tickets will be discounted and terrain will be limited. The first lift will leave at 8:30 am. After this weekend, both resorts will close Sunday, at 4 pm, and re-open Saturday, November 22. Full-time operations are slated to begin on Friday, November 28. (Photo from the Whiteface Cam, Courtesy ORDA).
I’d like to tell you that it’s been a long couple of weeks out at the cabin. That, however, would not be the truth. The truth is, it’s been a couple of very lazy weeks lounging around in the comfort of an actual house.
The weather has been terrible. I was having to hike into the cabin, my firewood is running low, and I was sick of dragging a forty pound jug of water a quarter mile uphill twice a week. So I’ve been staying at my girlfriend’s with Pico and Herbie. And the Levine men have officially taken over the couch. » Continue Reading.
I’d never seen snowflakes so big. They seemed like albino flying squirrels falling Frisbee-style from the sky. The big snow got me to thinking: from the perspective of wild animals, is snow a good thing or bad?
This season’s crop of unusual weather featured several stretches of bitter December cold the likes of which we usually see in January or February. Injected into the mix were periods of warm temperatures and rain, and in combination, those extremes caused problems for a lot of people—car accidents, frozen pipes, flooding, canceled events, and lots of other bad stuff. In general, though, it was the sort of stuff we North Country folks are accustomed to dealing with.
However, there is one group (of which I’m a member) that has suffered for weeks now, and it’s not over yet. Despite enduring this lifelong affliction, I’ve never spoken to a professional about it so this amounts to a confession of sorts: I’m a shoveler. I’ll wait a moment for the jokes to clear from your head—“as a writer, you’ve been shoveling it for a long time,” and stuff like that. You’ll get no argument from me. But still, maybe I need help. » Continue Reading.
As an artist, I know snow isn’t white. Perhaps some of the more scientific oriented folks who read or contribute to the Almanack can offer scientific explanations. I’m going to tell you how an artist perceives snow.
This little painting, “Up Near the Black Pond Cut”, practically went viral when I posted it on my Facebook page in early December. It had nearly 300 “shares” and over 50,000 views!
It’s a winter scene – but there’s almost no white snow in it! I think the color and the light is what made it such an appealing painting. It was based on photos I’d taken last winter at the Paul Smith’s College VIC on the Esker Trail. » Continue Reading.
Many years ago, I lived in San José, California where the weather forecast went something like this: Sunny for three weeks, one day of rain, followed by many more weeks of sun. There was a sameness to the weather that bordered on the banal and never made me wonder what was going on.
Not so here in the Northeast. The mercurial nature of our weather keeps us wondering from day to day – often hour to hour – when it’s going to change. The uncertainty is never more present than in the winter, when at times we’re blessed with that trifecta of miserable driving conditions: snow, sleet, and freezing rain.
Why is it that a day could start with a delicate snowfall and suddenly shift to a clattering sleet and end in an icy glaze – but the mercury doesn’t move? Or the temperature will be 30 degrees in both Elizabethtown and Plattsburgh, but snow will fall in one and freezing rain in the other? Clearly the thermometer is telling only part of the story. » Continue Reading.
The Tug Hill region east of Lake Ontario got clobbered by a lake-effect snowstorm Tuesday. I was hoping we’d get a decent snowfall in Saranac Lake, but we received only a little more than a dusting. The woods on Baker Mountain looked pretty this morning, but they would have made for ugly skiing.
The western Adirondacks, however, picked up several inches of fresh snow.
Chris Tapper, business manager of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company in Old Forge, said the Old Forge area got about five inches of light snow. The area now has about eight inches on the ground, and Tapper said most trails favored by Nordic enthusiasts should be skiable.
“Wider skis are going to be the tool of choice, because it’s light, fluffy snow,” Tapper said.
Rick Kovacs, owner of the Wanakena General Store, said Wanakena area received about six inches of snow Tuesday on top of a two-to-three-inch base. He said skiing should be good on most trails. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued an advisory today reporting that the recent snowstorm provided great conditions for winter outdoor recreation in the Adirondack backcountry. Backcountry visitors should be prepared with proper clothing and equipment for snow, ice and cold to ensure a safe and enjoyable winter experience.
Snow depths range from 8 – 20 inches or more. The deepest snows are in the western and southwestern Adirondacks and the thinner depths in the northeastern section. Snow depths are deeper in the higher elevations like the High Peaks and other mountains over 3,000 feet. » Continue Reading.
They aren’t fleas and they’re not especially fond of snow, but other than that, snow fleas are aptly named.
On a sunny winter day you may notice tiny, dark flecks bouncing on the snow, often concentrated near the bases of trees or collecting in footprints and other indentations. While snow fleas are the size of actual fleas, don’t worry about infestation — they’re not interested in either you or your pets (please don’t take that personally). Try not to step on them, as they’ve given us the means to improve both organ transplantation and ice cream. » Continue Reading.
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