Little rain, low water

One water-based business says hot, dry weather is bringing in customers

Rainfall has been below average this summer, and sand bars are starting to show in numerous sections of the Saranac River. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

SARANAC LAKE — There has been no lack of sunshine so far this summer, and with a little bit of rain on Tuesday this week, the forecast is back to clear skies for the foreseeable future.

But while lawns turn brown and shorelines are exposed, one paddling business in the Tri-Lakes says the sunny days have been a boon.

The National Weather Service in Burlington confirmed Wednesday that precipitation amounts are down, largely due to a lack of moisture making its way up from the southeastern U.S.

“Rain levels have been quite a bit lower than normal this year,” Robert Haynes, a forecaster with NWS Burlington said. “From June 1 to today, Saranac Lake has had about 4.3 inches [of precipitation], and the normal value is about 6.15 inches for this time of year. From January 1 to today, the current accumulation is at 7.28 inches, and the normal is about 18.5 inches.”

Haynes said there are a couple of reasons it’s been so dry so far this summer.

“With a lot of these warmer conditions we’ve experienced this summer, we’ve had a lot of evaporation take place,” he said. “A lot of the moisture gets out of here a lot quicker, so these dryer conditions in combination with hotter temperatures allowed things to dry off quickly.

“For the most part, we’ve had high pressure that has been pretty dominant this year. As a result, we’ve had no real opportunity for moisture to really get streamed up from the southeast. We’ve had a lot of dry air just kind of sitting in place as a result of these mid-level highs that have developed over the area.”

Haynes did add that forecasters see the potential for a break in this pattern.

“We are kind of looking at a bit of a pattern shift heading forward, so we might have some unsettled weather conditions as we get a low pressure that sets over the Great Lakes region and kind of gives us that more southerly return moisture,” Haynes said. “So it might provide a little bit of relief, but we’re not looking at a big drought buster in the near future.”

Despite the lack of rain, Dave Cilley, co-owner of St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, said the summer weather has been great for business.

“We’re not having any issues at all,” Cilley said. “The ponds are fine. The rivers are a little bit low, but there’s no problems.

“We’ve had fantastic weather. It’s been hot, so people want to get on the water. Our business has been busy — no negative affects for our business at all.”

Cilley said some smaller streams may not be floatable, but many of them are seasonal-only paddling in most years. But he added, while looking at the store’s new canoe launch on the Saranac River in downtown Saranac Lake, that if the weather doesn’t change, problems may float to the surface.

“It’s OK now,” he said, “but if it doesn’t rain for another three weeks, we might be in trouble. At some point it becomes a negative, but most people are used to doing some portages.”

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