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Weather monitoring station opens at Uihlein Farm

Mesonet staffers and local representatives cut a ribbon to unveil the Mesonet weather station at Uihlein Farm on Wednesday, June 5. (News photo — Sydney Emerson)

LAKE PLACID — The University at Albany unveiled a new weather monitoring station at Uihlein Farm in Lake Placid on Wednesday, June 5.

Throughout the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the site experienced almost every form of summer weather the Adirondacks has to offer, going from clear and sunny to overcast and rainy, and back again.

“This is an exciting day for us,” said John D. Leekley, president and chair of the Uihlein Foundation. “Now, of course, I can retire my weather rock.”

The Uihlein weather station is the the first addition to the New York state Mesonet since its 126-station network was completed in 2018. Operated by the University at Albany, the Mesonet is a weather-observing network that was created in 2014 with a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Sandy. The Mesonet’s main purpose is to detect severe weather early enough to provide adequate warning and preparation time for New Yorkers, which will become more important as climate change continues to shift weather patterns.

“Unfortunately, New York state will see an increased frequency in extreme weather going forward over the next decade, which means this kind of network is really crucial for monitoring how the weather systems are changing but also to get real-time weather information to those who need to make decisions,” said Chris Thorncroft, director of the University at Albany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center.

Uihlein Farm was previously the site of another weather station from 1972 to 2014. Mesonet Project Manager June Wang said that the Uihlein station is unique among other Mesonet stations in that regard, providing valuable historic data for climate monitoring.

“We already got the data from 1995 to 2010,” she said. “We really want to connect this past data with current data to continue the climate monitoring.”

Each of the Mesonet’s stations are equipped with automated sensors that collect data in real time every five minutes, measuring temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, pressure, precipitation, solar radiation, snow depth and soil information.

This station is one of around 20 equipped with tools that measure air quality, which Thorncroft said is an increasingly important metric in light of the rampant wildfire smoke much of the northeastern U.S. — especially the Adirondacks — saw last summer as a result of Canadian wildfires.

At 2,100 feet in elevation, this site will be the highest Mesonet location in the Adirondacks, beating out the weather station on the side of Whiteface Mountain by two feet. Before the Uihlein station went online a few weeks ago, the Whiteface station was the closest station to Lake Placid and often could not provide pinpoint-accurate weather data for the village.

The Uihlein station’s real-time data may prove invaluable to Lake Placid’s year-round sports culture, Wang said, with snow metrics aiding winter forecasts and air quality monitoring informing summer events like the Ironman Triathlon and Lake Placid Marathon.

“Our data is assimilated to the numerical weather prediction model and with this data I hope the data can help improve the forecast in this region,” she said.

For live weather data from Uihlein Farm, visit nysmesonet.org and select the Lake Placid station.

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