Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tom Kalinowski Worries About Low Snowpack

The mild temperatures and limited snowfall that the Adirondacks have experienced this winter season have failed to establish the usual snowpack that blankets the region by this time of year. While a substantial covering of snow provides numerous recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, it also serves as an essential fresh water reserve to supply the many brooks, streams and rivers across the Park with water when spring arrives during March and April.

With the first few thaws of late winter and early spring, much of the water produced from melting snow flows over the surface of the still frozen ground. This water quickly moves down hillsides and creates small, seasonal water courses on the forest floor. As these tiny tributaries merge and empty into larger, more permanent streams, the level of the water increases, along with the strength of the current. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kimberly Rielly: A New Climate for Winter Tourism

Mother Nature has handed us a smorgasbord of weather so far this winter, with wildly fluctuating temperatures and at least 14 types of precipitation. We haven’t got a contract with her; and I am confident that the usual blanket of snow will arrive just a little bit later than expected this year.

Of course, I’m no meteorologist; maybe it won’t.

I’m not going to talk about climate change. It’s a fact; and though it might not completely eradicate what we now consider typical winter recreation in the Adirondacks for decades, these weather fluctuations WILL be a factor from now on.

As a tourism-dependent region, it is incumbent upon us to be flexible. In addition to having a wardrobe that consists of a variety of different weight jackets, business owners need to be nimble enough to switch modes quickly with respect to marketing.

My office has put this to the test.

I’ve had a “snow alert” email queued up for distribution for a couple of months now. It’s still there waiting for the moment we hear about that predicted nor’easter.

In promoting winter to the leisure travel market, our content and marketing strategy includes a schedule of prioritized topics and keywords for inclusion in emails, blogs, SEO releases and more. For winter, these topics include snowshoeing, alpine and nordic skiing, pond hockey, skating, tobogganing and other ways to play in the snow and ice throughout the region.

But this winter, we’ve had to adjust that schedule. Our original timeline called for a switch from highlighting alpine skiing in December to cross country/backcountry skiing in January. Due to the lack of snow on the backcountry AND groomed trails, we reverted to highlighting the promotion of alpine skiing again this month, as Whiteface Mountain was up and running, primarily with man-made snow.

Content changed on all fronts. Instead of writing a blog about snowshoeing, I recently wrote about the virtues of ice, and adventures in hiking with microspikes for these conditions.

This was prompted by conversations that I had with a couple of our local licensed guides. They reported to me that they had convinced some of their backcountry ski and snowshoe clients to keep their reservations, and have taken them out with microspikes or crampons for the icy trails. Flexibility saved the day; not to mention their projected income for the week.

If I had submitted an editorial (or advertorial) about snowshoeing to a print publication for distribution in January or February this winter, there would be no recourse. Inspired by the article, the potential visitor would inevitably be disappointed to learn upon further investigation that there isn’t enough snow. Instead, I have in my arsenal a toolbox full of flexible tools such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to nimbly post updated photos, to promote events and to monitor and respond to inquiries.

Over 90 percent of all travel research is conducted online. And now, social networks like Twitter and Facebook are filled with on site, in-person, real-time accounts from people who are already in the destinations that are being researched. With the prevalence of smart phone use, potential visitors are able to check the current weather in Colorado while walking down the streets of New York City. If there’s no snow, savvy travelers will know. Why not provide them with incentive to visit anyway?

Fortunately, the product that we have to offer, whether direct or indirect, serves as a very popular backdrop. We know that the primary driver of visitation to the region is the unique mix of mountains, lakes and rivers that comprise the Adirondacks, and the outdoor recreational activities that they offer.

If Mother Nature has taught us anything this winter, it is that there is an increased need for creativity and flexibility. If you can’t go snowshoeing, hike with crampons. If your customers are looking for a weekend getaway in the Adirondacks, offer them a creative experience they can’t resist, (and market it online, where they will find it!)

Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism


Kid next to water
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Funding Restored for 18 Champlain Basin Streamgages

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have announced that they have secured funding to prevent the imminent shutdown of 18 United States Geological Survey (USGS) river and lake gauges in the Lake Champlain basin. Those gauges – nine in Vermont and nine in New York – were seen as vital to communities impacted by last year’s spring floods and during Tropical Storm Irene. The funding has been secured through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nature Photography in Winter: A Wild Center Workshop

Capturing the Adirondacks in winter is something that only the hardiest of hikers and Adirondack photographers do. Painters will sometimes take on the weather, but the stillness of winter is really for photographers.

The days are short, the air is cold, and the light falls in slants through the bare trees. This is the time and place that belongs to Carl Heilman, II, a photographer who has been roaming the mountains for more than three decades, producing spectacular panoramas from the frozen lakeshores to the frosted tips of the peaks.

So who better to learn from? Heilman has been leading treks through the Adirondacks as long as he has been taking photographs, and through his workshops, he has shared the secrets to his wonderous photography with others who, in their own way, help to carry on the Adirondack tradition.

On January 28th, Heilman will be teaching the photography workshop, “Nature in Winter” from 9 am – 5 pm at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The morning will be devoted to seminar instruction and Q&A to prepare participants for an afternoon of shooting on the Wild Center property and at nearby locations.

The Wild Center workshop is $125 to members and $138 to nonmembers for the day, and includes the free use of snowshoes. Notification of other equipment and recommended clothing will be provided upon registration. Register directly by contacting Sally Gross: [email protected], (518) 359-7800, ext 116.

Photo by Carl Heilman, II.

Linda J. Peckel explores the Adirondacks by following the arts wherever they take her. Her general art/writing/film/photography musings on can be found at her own blog Arts Enclave


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Adirondack Climate Change and Temperature

There are numerous physical characteristics of the atmosphere that can be measured to provide weather insight. Unquestionably, the data most commonly collected by meteorologists and amateur weather observers, and the one most often mentioned in casual conversation is temperature. On daily weather reports, the first order of business is noting how warm or cold it currently is, has been, and probably will be over the next several days. While the presence of sun, the threat of precipitation, and the strength of the wind may also be discussed, it is temperature that seems to dominate when the topic of weather is addressed.

Likewise, in presentations and lectures on global warming, temperature is of prime concern and useful in helping to document changes in climate. In the report Climate Change in the Champlain Basin sponsored by the Nature Conservancy and written by Dr. J. Curt Stager and Mary Thill, average temperatures were noted and analyzed from areas in the Champlain Valley and in the eastern section of the Adirondacks which drains into that basin. Additionally, other well researched national and global reports support the case for global warming partially based on the change in average temperatures at various locations over a long period of time. While average temperatures are useful for describing a climate and weather trends, they do provide some room for debate and discussion.

Average temperature is calculated by simply taking the high and low reading for the day and averaging them together. For example, a normal high temperature for mid January in the Central Adirondacks is about 24 degrees, and a normal low is about 2 degrees. This yields an average temperature of 13 degrees.

Any increase in wind speed and cloud cover over the past few decades could suppress the nightly radiational cooling of the atmosphere and result in warmer minimum temperatures. Even with a slight breeze, the air does not cool as it does when perfectly calm. A thin layer of overcast can likewise limit heat loss to space and prevent the temperature from falling, as can the presence of an air mass with high humidity.

If the temperature only drops to 10 degrees on that mid January night, it would produce a daily average temperature that is 4 degrees warmer than normal, despite the same high temperature of 24 degrees.

When I first moved to the Adirondacks in the very early 70’s, I heard on several occasions that 15 nights during the month of January should be at, or below zero. That seemed to be the case until the 80’s. Over the past decade I can’t recall any year when we have had 15 nights in January with subzero mercury readings. (In noting weather records, I realize that the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s were exceptionally cold. That may have been a function of the “mini-nuclear winter” that occurred after more than 500 nuclear weapons were tested in the atmosphere during that cold war era, or the result of some natural phenomena, and perhaps that saying was only valid for that period when our climate was unusually cool.) On the other hand, I do not believe that daytime temperatures in winter, or during any other season, have risen at all over the past 40 years.

In Stager and Thill’s report, it was noted that June and September are the months that have experienced the greatest increase in average temperature for the Adirondack region. It would be interesting to note if this was the result of an increase in both daily highs and lows, or just mainly in the lows.

An increase in just the low temperatures at this critical time of the year, when the last and first frosts of the season typically occur, would have a profound impact on the length of the growing season, and affect the ability of the region to support non-native plants.
I believe that a warming trend is in progress however, I don’t think that our daily maximum temperatures are much higher. I also believe that our nightly minimums have risen noticeably. As I have stated in my other articles, I do not keep any weather records of my own, nor have I spent the time and effort analyzing available records to ferret out this information. I only speak from 40 years of personal experience noting temperatures and weather events in the Saranac Lake region.

The study sponsored by the Nature Conservancy was a great step in the right direction, however, much more needs to be done. It takes countless hours of sifting through volumes of weather records and analyzing them in numerous ways in order to gain better insight into this extraordinarily complex problem. I wish those individuals that want to explore this issue the very best in trying to secure funding for their research, as valid scientific investigations, rather than undocumented ramblings, are desperately needed to determine what may happen to nature here in the Adirondacks.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Cold Rain and Snow

Amy and I had tarried too long in town, visiting friends, getting a tour of a local art collection, enjoying a leisurely holiday pace. We did not start the long climb up to Lost Brook Tract until after 2 PM with a scant two hours of daylight remaining. It was an icy climb and even with trekking poles to help lever the ascent our progress was halting. By the time we were three miles in and two thousand feet up, nearing the junction where the way to Lost Brook Tract leaves any hiking trail altogether, it was close to pitch black with spotty freezing rain. We didn’t mind as hiking in the dark is fun. But we were about to be stupid… well, not so much “we” as me. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Adirondack Climate Change: Rainfall Trends

A significant part of climate is precipitation, and fundamental to any discussion on the impact that global warming is having on a region’s climate would have to include possible changes to the rain and snowfall patterns. While unusually prolonged periods of precipitation can turn a backcountry camping trip into a nightmare, discourage golfers, boaters, and other outdoor enthusiasts, and frustrate anyone trying to put a new roof on his/her home, or a coat of stain on the deck, too much rainfall, especially concentrated over a short span of time, can wreak havoc with the environment. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Will Climate Change Mean More Wind?

Global warming has been the topic of numerous articles, lectures and books over the past decade, and while some of these works focus on its causes and on possible ways to slow this impending climate shift, others discuss the consequences of an altered weather pattern on the environment. While I have only limited insight into this extraordinarily complex phenomenon, I do have some opinions with regards to the potential impact that a more thermally energized atmosphere would have on the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Diapause: Adirondack Insect Winter Inactivity

The unseasonably mild conditions that our region has experienced during the start of winter has been unusual, but is not unprecedented. In the past, there have been numerous bouts of warm weather and limited snowfalls that have produced similar periods when the ground became bare and the temperatures frequently rose above freezing.

Individuals that lived in the area during 1980 might recall that snow had to be trucked onto the Nordic ski trails because of a near total absence of snow during that January. And in February of 1981, the December and January snowpack completely melted, and the ground started to thaw because of a month long period of record-breaking mild weather.

Most of the invertebrates that populate this climatic zone are well suited to deal with such intense thaws by experiencing a type of dormancy known as diapause.

In summer, when temperatures are ideal and there is an abundance of food, the countless species of bugs that exist in our northern region continually eat and then reproduce by the hundreds if not by the thousands. But as environmental conditions begin to deteriorate, most species prepare for that time when their sources of food eventually vanish and when temperatures cause the transition of water into ice.

For many insects, winter is passed in a protected location either as an egg, or in the pupa stage of their life cycle. During this inactive state, overall life processes are significantly reduced as new body tissues slowly develop. For many other bugs, winter is spent as a larvae, nymph or adult in a sheltered spot where there is some protection from the weather and those predators that remain active during this bleak time of year. For these invertebrates, life slows to a near stop, which allows for their survival on the limited reserves of stored food within their small body.

As a bug enters this dormant state of diapause, its delicate chemical balance changes to allow the moisture within its cells to remain as a liquid regardless of how cold its surrounds becomes. Also, its internal clock is set to awaken the organism at some preprogrammed time in spring, rather than simply when weather conditions become favorable. Photoperiodism, or a response to the decreasing amount of daylight, is the primary trigger that brings about the onset of diapause. For this reason, the vast numbers of various bugs disappear at certain times in summer, or early autumn, regardless of how warm the weather continues to be, and they remain absent from the landscape until a specific time in spring.

Even though few, if any of their natural enemies may be present during a mid-winter thaw, food sources are seldom present, which would make a period of activity at this time of year a waste of energy for them. Also, while the weather may be quite pleasant for a day or two, the temperatures can quickly plunge following the passage of a strong cold front. This would suddenly engulf any primitive, cold-blooded organism in a frigid air mass, eventually leading to its death.

If a bug entered a traditional state of torpor (dormancy regulated by weather conditions), it would tend to remain active well into the autumn just as long as temperatures stay mild, and it would end whenever unseasonably warm conditions developed during a major winter thaw. While most Adirondack bugs use diapause to maintain their winterized body state until spring arrives, some insects do not. During thaws, it is not uncommon to see a few small moths flitting around a light during the evening, or note a mosquito or fly buzzing around an outdoor wood shed or garage. These insects have evolved a state of winter dormancy that can take advantage of such mild periods in winter to carry out small segments of their life cycle when predators are totally absent.

Many people maintain that the best time to hike is during periods of unseasonably mild weather in the latter part of autumn, or in early spring before the bugs emerge. Even snowshoeing or skiing when the temperatures rise into the low to mid 40’s can be great if the sun is out and the winds are calm as there are never any insects to pester you. This is because the internal clock, regulated by diapause in the bodies of our abundant hordes of insects is indicating to them that it is still winter, and hatching from an egg or pupa casing, or emerging from a larval or nymph retreat is not allowed yet. These creatures have to wait until the more official start of the warm weather season four months from now before they can return to an active existence here in the Adirondacks.


Monday, December 26, 2011

The Greatest Adirondack Rescue Story Ever?

This week marks the seventy-seventh anniversary of perhaps the greatest Adirondack rescue story ever. With all the inherent dangers of hiking, rock climbing, and navigating treacherous river rapids by canoe or kayak, this incredible incident ironically was unrelated to the most popular mountain pursuits. But when accidents occur while enjoying those pastimes, one factor above all can turn any outing into a life-or-death drama: weather. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Outlook for Adirondack Ski Areas

It’s no secret that it’s been a difficult start to the ski season. Besides a notable lack of snowfall, the cold temperatures that ski areas need for snowmaking operations have so far been hard to come by.

I started my ski season on Thanksgiving weekend, when both Gore and Whiteface opened for the 2011-2012 season, and I’ve now got several days at both mountains under my belt. Although trail choices have been limited (both mountains are about 20% open as of this writing), conditions have been surprisingly good, thanks to efficient snowmaking plants and modern grooming equipment. You can check out my most recent visits to Gore and Whiteface here and here. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Adirondack Winter: Hibernating Jumping Mice

Winter is the time when wildlife activity ebbs in the Adirondacks. Many residents of our fields and forests have retreated to shelters beneath the surface of the soil in an attempt to escape this season of low temperatures, snow and ice, and little if any food. The woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis) is one member of our wildlife community that retires to the seclusion of a cushiony nest underground and lapses into a profound state of dormancy, known as true hibernation, for roughly 6 months beginning sometime in mid-October. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Adirondack Wildlife: Snowfall and the Varying Hare

The recent snowfall that allowed Whiteface Mountain to open this past Thanksgiving weekend proved to be a most welcome weather event for both our region’s alpine skiing community and the multitude of varying hares that reside in those areas of the Park impacted by this late November winter storm.

In early October, the varying hare, also known as the snowshoe rabbit, (Lepus americanus) starts to develop a new outer coat of white fur. These lengthy hairs contain numerous air chambers that increase their insulational value while also allowing them to more effectively reflect light, which gives them a brighter, bleached appearance. As this layer of guard hairs develops, it allows this small game animal to better retain its body heat while also gradually changing its appearance from a brownish-gray to an ivory white that closely matches snow. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Phil Brown: Quantifying Irene

How much rain fell during Tropical Storm Irene? Seems like an easy question, but it’s not.

The National Weather Service relies on volunteers to collect rainfall, and given the variance in rainfall and the finite number of volunteers, there are bound to be gaps in the data record.

For the current issue of the Adirondack Explorer, Nancy Bernstein created a rainfall map based on the Weather Service’s own maps. It shows that more than seven inches of rain fell in Keene, Jay, and Au Sable Forks. But how much more? The Explorer’s publisher, Tom Woodman, measured eleven inches at his home in Keene. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Late Autumn – Early Winter in the Adirondacks

What follows is a guest essay from the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).

Late autumn can be a great time to recreate in the Adirondacks. Leaves have fallen from the trees providing more scenic views, there are a lot fewer people on the trails and waters and there are no insects! However, variable weather and trail conditions and shorter days require that you be prepared to deal with a variety of circumstances.

Days may be sunny, with temperatures above freezing or you may experience rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow and temperatures well below freezing. Sometimes you can experience all of these weather conditions on the same day or even within a short period of time, particularly if you are hiking into higher elevations.

Darkness comes early and the temperatures drop quickly. Trails will likely have ice in the morning but may be muddy in afternoon. Water temperatures are cold and ice begins forming on the shores of ponds and in the backwaters of rivers.

Mountain tops and high elevations will have snow and ice, and snowstorms may blanket all of the Adirondacks at any time. Hypothermia is a real danger at this time.

Many people in the Adirondacks stay inside at this time. Either waiting for the enough snow so they can ski, snowshoe or snowmobile, or waiting for spring. However, if you are properly prepared you can still enjoy the outdoors.

Whether you are hunting, hiking, camping, paddling or boating, be prepared for the wide variety of conditions you may encounter:

* Check the weather forecast and trail conditions during the days before and just before setting off into the woods (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7865.html);

* Wear good quality waterproof hiking shoes or boots, with cold weather hiking socks;

* Wear layers of synthetic, fleece or wool (not cotton) clothing;

* Pack and/or wear water proof outer wear and fleece or wool hat and gloves or mittens;

* Pack additional synthetic, fleece or wool clothing & socks – take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat;

* Carry plenty of water (2 liters/person), high energy foods and any needed medications;

* Carry crampons, snowshoes, and/or skis and use when appropriate;

* Carry a flashlight or headlamp and fresh extra batteries;

* Pack an ensolite pad and bivy sack or space blanket; and

* If you are on the water, wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD) – it is required by law for anyone on a boat less than 21 feet in length between November 1 and May 1

As always on any backcountry trip:

* Know your physical abilities and the terrain you will be hiking and plan your trips accordingly;

* Carry and use a map and compass, even if you have a GPS;

* Let someone know where you will be going and when you expect to return; and

* Contact DEC Forest Rangers at 518/891-0235 to report lost or injured hikers

It is also important to remember to be prepared to turn back if conditions worsen, to prevent hiking in the dark or if someone in your group is weary, cold, sick, injured or otherwise distressed. The mountain or the water will always be there to come back to another day.

Proper preparedness and good judgment will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip, even during this fickle and unpredictable season.

This guest essay was contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy. Their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy, share, and protect these unique lands. To learn more about AFPEP visit www.adirondackoutdoors.org.



Kid next to water

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