Lake Placid got most snow at 42 inches
National Weather Service totals Winter Storm Stella accumulation
It’s not 100-percent official, but the National Weather Service says Lake Placid had the most snow of any community in northern New York or Vermont — 42 inches.
In a revised map of snow totals posted on Twitter Thursday afternoon, the weather service’s office in Burlington, Vermont, made it clear where the most snow fell Tuesday and, to a lesser degree, Wednesday. Amid the chart’s shades of red and yellow, there were only a few dots of blue, indicating more than 36 inches of snowfall: a few too small to see in the Green Mountains of Vermont, a tiny one in central New York; a small one around Altona in Clinton County, marked with the number 39; and a slightly bigger dot centered on Lake Placid, sporting the conspicuous number 42.
Nowhere else on the map came within 3 inches.
“Many locations were well over 2 feet, and some were pushing 3 feet, but in this case it looks like Lake Placid was the big winner with 42 inches,” meteorologist Eric Evenson of the weather service office in Burlington said in a phone interview. “Ski resorts, places with higher elevations got more than that, but in terms of places where people live, no, I don’t think so.”
Nationally, the only community Evenson could find that matched Lake Placid for snowfall was West Winfield, south of Utica in Herkimer County, which also reported 42 inches.
Some Adirondackers contest Lake Placid’s title.
“Paul Smiths beat that,” John Warchol posted on the Enterprise Facebook page.
“Come to my house, Duane, NY,” Robin Clifford Brown added.
“Jay Peak (in Vermont) says they got 52 inches, and being there I can confirm it’s accurate,” wrote Matthew Adams of Lake Clear.
Titus Mountain Family Ski Center south of Malone announced Thursday night it had received 54 inches of new powder on its upper reaches and 40 inches at its base.
Weather service meteorologist Robert Deal in Burlington confirmed that several Vermont ski areas also reported snow totals between 50 and 60 inches, but he said the measurements his office puts on the map are from places people live, not mountaintops. In Titus’ case, he said, “we would report the 40 at the base rather than the 54 at the top”
Lake Placid’s total isn’t necessarily official. The map carries this disclaimer: “This map is an interpolation of actual official and unofficial reported values. It should be considered an estimation only.” Evenson said his office got Lake Placid’s 42-inch total from a citizen’s post on social media Thursday morning, whereas some of its reports are from more official weather observers.
“This one was just the general public, but it was very consistent with general reports we’ve seen from that area,” he said.
It’s also consistent with the meteorological data his office has about bands of snow that passed through Lake Placid, Evenson added.
“I believe it,” Beverly Reid, the historian for the village of Lake Placid and its surrounding town of North Elba, said when told of her hometown’s snow report. “I’ve never been so snowbound. I’m still stuck, and my son is a snow plower. He’s saving me for last, naturally.”
She said she still has not left her house since the snow started, but she’s OK.
“I stay right here where it’s warm and safe,” she said. “I was smart and stocked up ahead of time. You live and learn with these things.”
Whiteface Mountain Ski Center also reported 42 inches in new snowfall at its base: 40 Tuesday and 2 Wednesday, according to Jon Lundin, spokesman for the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority that runs the facility. He said snow at Mount Van Hoevenberg south of Lake Placid, home of the Olympic cross-country skiing and sliding venues, measured 40 inches.
Evenson said the weather service had reports of 35 inches in AuSable Forks and 32 inches in Keene Valley, but didn’t have snow totals for Saranac Lake or Tupper Lake. Those villages appear to have gotten roughly 3 and 2-and-a-half feet of snow, respectively, based on measurements by Enterprise staff and numerous reports by local people.
Measuring snow has many variables, Evenson said, including wind and the settling of snow over time.
Is this a record anywhere? Evenson said his office does not keep snowfall records for anywhere except its hometown of Burlington, where he said the 30.4-inch total was the second most in history.
“Any time you get over 3 feet of snow from an event, that’s pretty significant,” he said. “It’s probably one that will be remembered for quite some time.”
Reid said she isn’t aware of any records for the most snowfall in Lake Placid, either, but she is certain this is the most snow that has fallen in the 57 years she has lived in her current house on the Wilmington Road.
The next biggest dumping she can recall was in 1993.
“We had a lot of snowfall then, but it was nowhere near this,” she said.
She knows that because at that time 24 years ago, she remembers being scared when her grandson jumped off her deck and disappeared in the snow.
“But this time, I cannot even see my deck,’ she said. “You wouldn’t know there was a deck there.”
Reid is 84 years old and grew up in Lake Placid. She remembers some big snowfalls when she was a child, including one where blown snowdrifts reached almost to the top of light posts. They could have been comparable to this, she said, but added, “When you’re a child, things look bigger, too.”
Storm moved this way
A day or two before the storm, forecasts were calling for roughly 6 to 12 inches. What happened?
“We kept upping totals, and right before the event, it was up to 18 to 24,” Evenson said. “The low-pressure system decided to take a more inland track, and that favored northern New York and Vermont getting the most snow. And the fluff factor contributed to getting more snow.”
The storm had previously been expected to hug the Atlantic coast, but instead it passed through the middle of Massachusetts — and dumped most of its snow to the northwest, Evenson said.
“Typically on the northwest side of the low-pressure system, that’s where you’re going to see the most snow,” he said.
Small, breakaway bands of snow concentrated it certain places.
“Like here in Burlington, we had 5 inches of snow in one hour,” Evenson said.