Serious winter outdoor opportunities return to N.Y.’s Adirondacks, but tread carefully, NYSDEC advises

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation released an advisory Wednesday cautioning winter outdoors enthusiasts of deep snow in the Adirondack backcountry. (NYSDEC photo)

For serious winter outdoors types, the fun starts now.

Or by Thursday morning. That’s when Winter Storm Stella is expected to finally pull out of the Northeast, where as of early Wednesday morning it had reportedly dumped 42 inches of snow on West Winfield, N..Y., located between Albany and Syracuse. According to The Weather Channel, there have been at least 450 reports of communities with at least a foot of snow in the Northeast, with the bulk of the heavier accumulations coming in New York state.

Stella is expected to hover over the Northeast for much of Wednesday before finally leaving. But the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is advising outdoors enthusiasts who might be heading to the state’s outdoors mecca — the Adirondack Mountains in the northeast region of Upstate New York — to tread carefully after the storm. According to a report out of Whiteface Mountain Resort, the popular Adirondacks ski resort was expecting 42 inches of snowfall Tuesday and Wednesday.

“This week’s snowstorm provided most of the Adirondacks with three feet or more of snow, even the periphery received a foot or more of snow,” the NYSDEC said in a news release advising those who travel to the Adirondacks to use care. “Winter outdoor enthusiasts seeking to recreate in the Adirondack backcountry should be aware of and prepare for the conditions they may encounter while enjoying the great snow conditions.”

That includes avalanche risks.

“The recent winter storm was accompanied by high winds and snowfall rates of 3 to 4 inches an hour, resulting in more than 30 inches of snow on the higher peaks of the Adirondacks,” the NYSDEC release said. “The high winds transported snow to the leeward side of mountains producing deeper snows and cornices. Below-freezing temperatures and additional snow accumulations forecast through the weekend will add layers to the snowpack and slow bonding in the snowpack. These are all factors conducive to avalanche conditions on avalanche-prone terrain.”

But the snowfall could mean the reopening of snowmobile trails in the area: Many snowmobile trails and gates on individual trails had been closed due to lack of snow prior to the storm; the NYSDEC said it was working with various snowmobile associations and groups to reopen some gates and trails, but urged snowmobilers to get updated trail conditions before venturing out. The NYSDEC urged caution on “foot” trails, too, adding that snowshoes (or skis where relevant) are required on all trails within the Adirondacks.

“The use of snowshoes prevents ‘post-holing’ (deep footprints in the snow), avoids injuries, and eases travel on snow-covered trails,” the NYSDEC said. “Post-holing makes trails more difficult and hazardous for others to use.”

While temperatures are expected to fall as Stella departs — low temps in single digits are forecasted for Thursday and Friday in at least parts of the Adirondacks — the NYSDEC says ice on waterways in the Adirondacks (and across the state) still probably isn’t safe for anglers and other recreationists.

“Ice has only recently formed and is thin on many waters,” the NYSDEC said. “Even though they may be covered in snow, (certain areas) should be avoided.”

Also, with those colder temps, use precautions to avoid frost bite, the agency said, and always prepare for possible whiteout conditions in the Adirondacks.

“Carry a map and compass; know how to navigate without the ability to see landmarks, cairns, or your tracks; and do not attempt to summit mountains when whiteout conditions exist,” the NYSDEC said, adding that those who venture into the Adirondacks in the coming days should “be prepared for winter conditions, check current conditions on the Adirondack Backcountry Information web pages and have a safe and enjoyable winter outdoors recreational experience in the Adirondacks.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *