Even with between 1 and 3 inches of snow expected in parts of the Capital Region by early today, snowfall for January is well below normal for this area, weather experts say.
Only 13 inches of snow have fallen since the start of winter, when the normal snowfall by late January is 33 inches, according to Luigi Meccariello, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany.
The average temperature for January is running almost 10 degrees above normal, he said.
The lack of snow and higher temperatures throughout the winter have hit some businesses particularly hard. From snowblower and snowmobile sales to apple orchards, the unusual winter has been difficult.
“It’s kind of devastating,” said Duane Leach, owner of All Seasons Equipment Inc. on Freemans Bridge Road in Scotia.
He said his business, which sells snowblowers and snowmobiles, has had to lay off employees who repair winter equipment. He is hoping for snow in February and March.
“If it comes later, it’s better than nothing at all,” Leach said.
Nate Darrow, owner of Saratoga Apple on Route 29 in Schuylerville, said the lack of snow cover allows the frost to sink deeper into the soil in his apple orchards. He said he will discover in the spring if this may have damaged some of his fruit trees.
“We don’t like to see periods of bare ground,” he said. “Snow provides a layer of insulation.”
He said rain on top of the frozen ground causes standing water that freezes when the temperature drops into the teens and 20s and this can cause problems for trees nearby.
But he said there is a plus for such a snowless winter. The rodents that live in orchards, particularly the meadow vole, chew a layer of bark off the bottom of apple trees in late winter and early spring. When there is ample snow on the ground, predators can’t see the mouselike creatures and they can eat their way around the bark on the trunk of a tree, often killing it.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for today for parts of the region, including Fulton and Montgomery counties, Saratoga County, and southern Washington County.
A weather front is bringing 1 to 3 inches of snow, possibly mixed with sleet, by this morning. Then another inch or two of snow is expected for a total accumulation of 2 to 4 inches.
Only an inch or so of snow is expected in the Schenectady and Albany area.
The temperatures will move out of the 30s today into the mid-40s. By Wednesday afternoon the temperatures could reach the upper 40s with clouds and a 40 percent chance of rain.
Dominic Jacangelo, executive director of the New York State Snowmobile Association, said a lack of snow, even in traditionally snowy areas like the Tug Hill plateau and Old Forge, is making for a very poor riding season.
He said there are some trails open in the Old Forge area.
“But even they don’t have anything like they usually have,” Jacangelo said. “It’s limited.”
He said small restaurants and motels that cater to snowmobilers across the state are having a very poor winter.
“The restaurants on the trails are not seeing people; even our association membership is down,” Jacangelo said.