Best conditions in the north country

Conditions for 1/21/21 and forecast. This post contains section links to Conditions and Forecast.

Summary

Snowfall on MLK weekend refreshed and restored the base on trails and at touring centers across the region. Snowfall today and tomorrow is making conditions the best they’ve been at some areas.

Pineridge is the closest touring center to us in NY state, and has excellent conditions. If you were in Massachusetts, Notchview likewise has great conditions. Regrettably and in a recall of last season, everywhere downstate or the mid-Hudson is bare and brown.

Cold weather and wind coming in for the weekend. Best day of the weekend for skiing will be Sunday.

Ah, to be vaccinated and have the week off.

Conditions

Today (Thursday) the Tug Hill plateau is under a Lake Effect Snow warning, lasting through Friday. The Adirondacks, and northern Vermont may also be in for a nice refresh of snow. Lesser refreshes possible in the lower Adirondacks and southern Green Mountains. Windy conditions possible on Saturday, particularly in the mountain regions.

Hit up ‘State of the touring centers‘ or in the menu above. Snow depth graphic below:

Snow depth northeast US, Jan. 21 2021
Snow depth northeast US, Jan. 21 2021 (NWS) , with ski centers marked

Forecast

Snow in the northern parts of NY and NH, and all of VT today (Thursday). Snow will continue through Friday, ending Saturday. Overall, several inches accumulation expected in the Tug Hill plateau. Significant accumulation also possible in the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks and northern Green Mountains.

Temperatures in the northern areas will be in the 20s to lower 30s through Friday, winds light and south or southwesterly. On Saturday winds shift to come from the northwest, chasing out the last of the precipitation and bringing colder weather.

Daytime temperatures take a dip on the weekend, heading down to freezing in the NYC metro area, mid- to upper-20s in the Hudson valley, and single digits to teens in the north and mountain areas.

Saturday will be authentically chilly with winds of 10-20mph, highest in elevated and exposed areas of the north country. Winds will moderate on Sunday. Overnight temps from Saturday-Sunday will drop below zero Fahrenheit, so that might be a night to go for koselig instead of camping. Skies will clear somewhat for the weekend.

The early part of next week will bring temps back up to the low- to mid-30s in the downstate region, and low teens to mid-20s in northern areas. Clouds will increase during this part of the week as well. A slight chance of snow showers across the region Monday-Tuesday.

Wallflowers: beware the shark

I’m referencing ‘jumping the shark’ to signal that Nordic skiing’s fifteen minutes of fame may be over. The harbinger is New York Magazine, the snakier, trend-obsessed neighbor of The New Yorker, which just published a buying guide for Manhattanites (and Manhattan-adjacents) on the best gear to get started cross-country skiing.

Couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Nordic ski clothing fits close and avoids that Michelin-man look of bulky parkas, could it?

Cast of TV show 'Sex and the City'

Several companies and organizations returned the call from New York Magazine for favorite gear this year- what skiing nerd wouldn’t want to be asked questions about their favorite activity by a mag for people who see and want to be seen? And the recommendations themselves are pretty first-rate. No problem with the items assembled.

In actuality however, the NYmag shopping guide provided an excuse for a post about two articles that are worth more notice and interest.

Not far from Craftsbury in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Highland Center for the Arts has a sculpture exhibit that you tour using skis or snowshoes. Stemming from a desire to relieve pandemic isolation through beauty and fresh air, the sculptures are free to tour on a two-mile circuit.

We had to have a hard look at what art would be like during the winter months in Vermont

Keisha Luce, executive director, Highland Center for the Arts

“Getting outside, getting exercise, and looking at art can help shift your perspective,” said Maya McCoy, the curator of the exhibit. Read the article or watch the segment at Boston TV station NECN.

Northern Vermont feels remote compared to the New York City metro area, and isolation is an issue in rural locations as a whole. No matter where we are we’ve each had a chance over the past year to reflect on beauty as a salve to tedium. A bright and esthetically interesting scene or object puts a cherry on top of a ski tour.

But there’s no place more remote in the US than northern Alaska in winter, which leads me to the third published item for today.

For the second time in a week, the New York Times has a story that features cross-country skiers and skiing- the first was on Jessie Diggins winning the Tour de Ski, and the latest one is on Nordic skiing sports being taught to kids in native villages in Alaska. It’s a personal account by Seth Adams, the author of the article, about being a volunteer for Skiku, an organization that sends coaches out to remote villages to teach skiing.

The conditions can be extreme, and many villages are unreachable by ground transportation. Getting kids out just so they can have the pleasure of moving and testing their physical capacities in the long winter looks way more meaningful than shopping for the perfect-fitting soft shell jacket. You want rural? Alaska’s got your rural right here.

(Photo by Seth Adams)

Some of the people named in the article or on Skiku’s website will be familiar to followers of Nordic competition: Lars Flora, Brian and Caitlin Gregg, Erik Bjornsen, Rosie Brennan, Holly Brooks, and Susan Dunklee, among others.

The desire to meld sport with an enriching experience outdoors that is sharable with others isn’t unique to cross-country skiing at all, but there’s something about the dedication some people have that seems a bit more familiar in the Nordic sports.

Maybe it’s because Nordic sports are less popular, so cross-country skiers can’t afford to be too snooty about who gets to be a member of the club. Or maybe cross-country skiing in the US is more highly characterized by the places and people where it takes place, rather than holding to a ‘homologated’ standard form.

If the latter, I guess a cross-country ski community in NYC would have to ditch old boots if the accent color clashes too badly with the latest skis. There’s a price to pay for running with the popular kids.

Thanks for reading.

1/18 conditions + forecast

This post contains section links to Conditions and Forecast.

Summary

The conditions at most places are as good as they’ll be for the week. Lake effect plus a bit of additional moisture from westerly winds will bring some additional snow to the Tug Hill plateau and parts of the Adirondacks in midweek.

Backcountry skiing should be good in the Adirondacks and portions of the Green Mountains.

There’s a more contagious variant of SARS-CoV2 out there, and some touring centers are managing capacity by limiting passes. Check in advance, bring a mask while skiing, and equip your car to act as your lodge.

Conditions

The snow event earlier in the weekend brought wet snow, often 6-10″. The Tug Hill and some portions of the Green Mountains got 12″+. Later in the weekend some lucky locations got additional snow that was lighter and less dense. At this point, there’s a good if wet, base that will get firmer and faster as the week goes on. Cloudy skies and some light snowfall during the week will keep things in good shape for next weekend.

Except for us in the downstate region. It’s been just a bit too warm.

BETA report for this week indicates nicely skiable conditions throughout the Adirondacks.

Click ‘State of the touring centers‘ here or in the menu above- it’s been updated for today. Snow depth graphic below:

Snow depth northeast US, Jan. 18 2021, with ski centers marked
Snow depth northeast US, Jan. 18 2021 (NWS) , with ski centers marked

Forecast

Light snow possible across much of the norther portions of NY State and New England through the week. Moderate snowfall likely Wednesday in the Tug Hill plateau, extending eastward into portions of the Adirondacks. Accumulations could be 4-8″.

Winds generally light and westerly through the week with the exception of Thursday when winds will shift southerly. By Sunday winds will be from the northwest. Clouds will cover most of the region except for the NYC metro, Hudson valley, and southern New England during the week which will be partly cloudy. Skies in the northeast will undergo clearing on the weekend.

Daytime temperatures will be fairly consistent with the past two weeks: in the downstate region, mid-30s to low 40s early and late in the week, low- to mid-30s midweek and Saturday. Temps in north of the downstate and Hudson valley regions will be kinder to snow, mid-20s to mid-30s early and late in the week, teens to mid-20s midweek and Saturday. Sunday the temperatures will stay below 20 degrees in the north country and mountain areas, marking a dip for the early part of next week.

Thanks for reading.