After some of the coldest weather the Capital Region has experienced in two years — with the mercury dropping well below zero — weather experts say it will be a bit warmer this weekend and much warmer by late next week.
Today’s high will be in the low 30s, after reaching the mid-30s Friday at Albany International Airport. Lows tonight will be in the lower 20s.
But by Thursday, the temperature is expected to rise into the low- to mid-40s, said John Quinlan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany. A warm front out of the Great Lakes will bring the warmth, but also rain, Thursday and Friday, Quinlan said.
Below-zero temperatures Wed-
nesday and Thursday led to ice forming on most lakes and ponds in the Capital Region, bringing smiles to the faces of ice fishermen. Lake George, however, remains mostly open water.
Ice on Saratoga and Great Sacandaga lakes, for example, is only about 4 inches thick, at most, so anglers need to be careful on the frozen surfaces, according to state officials.
The temperature dropped to 5 below zero at Albany International Airport early Thursday but didn’t come close to the record of 14-below set Jan. 3, 1970, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.
The mercury dipped even lower in northern parts of the region, with 11-below zero recorded in Milton and Stillwater, said Hugh Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“[Thursday] morning was the coldest we have been in two years,” Johnson said.
Nick Kearney, manager of Saratoga Tackle on Route 9P, said Saratoga Lake froze completely overnight Wednesday into Thursday. Between 1 and 4 inches of ice cover the lake now, he said.
“These guys are chomping at the bit,” Kearney said about people stopping into Saratoga Tackle and picking up their winter fishing gear and bait. “By the weekend, you will see them on Fish Creek and the southern end of the lake, near Brown’s Beach.”
Most of Great Sacandaga Lake has also frozen with the cold snap of the past several days, according to Robert Tecler of J&S Country Store on South Shore Road in Edinburg. He said there are between 3 and 4 inches of ice on the lake near the new Batchellerville Bridge.
“This will be the first weekend it kicks off,” Tecler said about ice fishing on the lake.
Ice shanties won’t start appearing on the local lakes until the ice grows thicker than 4 inches, though, he said.
The annual ice fishing contest sponsored by the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation Inc. (www.gslff.com) will be held all day Jan. 26, with cash prizes.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation said a minimum of 3 to 4 inches of solid ice is the general rule for ice safety.
“Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water,” says the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor). “Clear, blue ice over running water is about 20 percent weaker.”
“Be cautious in areas where ‘bubblers’ are used to protect docks. They can produce thin, unsafe ice some distances away,” the DEC added. “Be especially alert in areas near shore, over moving bodies of water, and on lakes and ponds where streams enter or exit.”