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Officials celebrate activation of New York’s newest Mesonet weather monitoring station

Officials from New York’s statewide weather monitoring system held a ribbon cutting this morning to celebrate the activation of its newest observation station near Lake Placid.

This is the first of the Mesonet stations that is a partnership with a private foundation. The monitoring station is on land with a rich history. In 1949 Henry Uihlein purchased the property and in 1961 gave it to Cornell University to operate a research farm. In 2020 the land was returned to the Uihlein Foundation. The board then reached out to Mesonet to upgrade and modernize an old weather station and that led to this new Mesonet monitoring station two miles south of Lake Placid on the Uihlein Farm.

Foundation Board Chair John D. Leekley said the new Mesonet station fits with Henry Uihlein’s original goals for the land.

“This is from his instructions to us: ‘It is my intent and hope that the trustees will be able to find a use for the property which is charitable in nature and in general conformity with the goals of the foundation while at the same time preserving the beauty of the area and preventing any commercial development or subdivision of the area,’read Leekley. “And as you know his interests were agriculture, winter sports, education. So we’re hitting all those buttons. Winter sports even because you want to know whether the ice is forming. I’m looking forward to this because I’m just something of a weather nerd and I’ve already been looking at the website.”

The Lake Placid Mesonet weather monitoring station is the 127th installed across New York. University at Albany Atmospheric Sciences Research Center Director Christopher Thorncroft explained that the stations were installed after Superstorm Sandy to establish an early warning and severe weather detection network.

“Unfortunately New York state will see an increased frequency of extreme weather going forward over the next decades. Which means this kind of network is really crucial for monitoring how the weather systems are changing but also to give real time weather information to those that need to make decisions,” said Thorncroft. “Each of the Mesonet existing standard weather stations are spaced about 17 miles apart across the state. They’re equipped with automated sensors that measure weather information including temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, pressure, rainfall, snow, solar radiation, snow depth, soil information. We also have camera, photographs of current conditions everywhere. We’ve also added to some of the stations, including this one, an air quality sensor.”

New York State Mesonet Director June Wang says Lake Placid is their first new site in six years and it’s the highest in the Adirondacks.

“It provides much needed weather information for the whole region,” said Wang. “Secondly, climate wise, this site existed from 1972 to 2014. We really want to connect this past data with current data to continue the climate monitoring.”

Thorncroft notes that the data is used to provide early weather warnings and is used by a number of different entities.

“Its main purpose is to provide situational awareness of the weather, basically,” noted Thorncroft. “That data gets shared with the weather service and that actually allows them to provide earlier warnings. The data also gets used by emergency management. There’s a heavy use of the data by other users as well. Utility companies. There’s a lot of use in agriculture, farmers, transport. Also generating a long record of how weather is changing. The only way to do that is to have weather stations like this measuring that data.”

Every county in the state has at least one Mesonet station. Data at each monitoring station is updated every five minutes.