Snow in June? It’s forecast for the Adirondacks

In the Adirondacks village of Lake Placid, the forecast this week for the nearby mountains may cause
Sunset in Lake Placid, August 2015.
Sunset in Lake Placid, August 2015.

In New York City, it is already simmering. The temperature peaked at 85 degrees in Central Park on Tuesday, and while Wednesday may be somewhat cooler, it is hard to imagine anyplace where you might need a thick layer to keep warm.

In the Adirondacks village of Lake Placid, the outdoor stores are stocked with gear for swimming, canoeing and cycling. But the forecast this week for the nearby mountains may cause anyone clad in a swimsuit to think about covering up:

Snow. In June.

The National Weather Service is forecasting up to 2 inches of snow in parts of the Adirondacks in New York and the Green Mountains in Vermont, a summer flurry that could last from Wednesday night into Thursday.

“It’s certainly not normal,” Curt Stager, professor of natural sciences at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks, said. “You don’t expect to dress for winter when you’re hiking in June.”

The snow is predicted to fall on mountains that rise higher than 3,000 feet, such as Whiteface, which is north of Lake Placid and reaches 4,867 feet at its tallest peak.

Jessica Neiles, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Burlington, Vermont, said she did not have historical data for snow on New York’s peaks, but any accumulation on Mount Mansfield, which is the highest point in Vermont, would be just the fourth time since 1954 that the mountain had a measurable amount of snow in June.

Stager said snow-capped peaks in summer used to be more common, often from winter snow packs that had yet to melt — not from fresh storms. Still, he said, “you can, in theory, get snow any time of the year.”

He pointed to the writing of the explorer Samuel de Champlain, who, after exploring the lake that would eventually bear his name in July 1609, wrote that he saw mountains to the east that were covered in snow.

Stager, who has studied climate change in the Adirondacks, said warming in the area made such sightings more rare. “We’re going to see fewer and fewer of these oddball snow days,” he said.

Still, there have been recent snowstorms during warm-weather months. A Memorial Day weekend storm piled 3 feet of snow on Whiteface in 2013, prompting some people to grab their skis.

Richard Brandt, science manager at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center’s Whiteface Mountain Field Station, said snow was “not completely unexpected,” having been recorded at the mountain’s peak during every month of the year.

Elias Ingraham, the director of outside operations for the skiing and biking resort at Whiteface, agreed. He said the resort had gotten snow as late as June and as early as October. “It won’t stay long,” he said, noting that the resort, which is open to mountain bikers in the summer, plans to stay open.

At the High Peaks Cyclery, an outdoor gear store and guide company in Lake Placid, the business focuses on mountain biking, canoeing, camping and fishing this time of year. But the store always keeps hats, gloves and skis around, said Karen Delaney, an owner.

“We tell people you never put your winter stuff away,” she said.

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