NYS Mesonet Builds on Statewide Weather Network with Lake Placid Site

NYS Mesonet Program Manager June Wang (left) and Director Chris Thorncroft stand in front of a Mesonet weather tower at the ETEC research and development complex on UAlbany’s campus.
NYS Mesonet Program Manager June Wang (left) and Director Chris Thorncroft. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 5, 2023) — A new environmental monitoring site in Lake Placid will soon connect the region to the nation’s most advanced and largest early warning weather detection network. 

The New York State Mesonet, operated by the University at Albany, is turning an existing weather monitoring station at Uihlein Farm into its 127th standard weather network site, marking the first Mesonet site to be added to the network in partnership with a private entity. 

About two miles south of the Village of Lake Placid, Uihlein Farm is owned by the Henry Uihlein II and Mildred A. Uihlein Foundation Trust, a local nonprofit private foundation. The 454-acre farm was donated by Henry Uihlein to Cornell University in the 1960s and used for potato production and research. 

Mesonet researchers visit the weather tower located on Uihlein Farm in Lake Placid.
An existing 30-foot weather tower at Uihlein Farm will be converted into a Mesonet site over the next few months. (Photo provided)

The property includes a weather station with a 30-foot tower that was operated by researchers at Cornell for more than 50 years. That station will be modernized and converted into a Mesonet site over the next few months. 

“The Uihlein Foundation approached us with hopes of collaborating to revive and improve the weather station on its farm property,” said Chris Thorncroft, director of the NYS Mesonet and UAlbany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center. “The new Mesonet site will provide real-time weather information for the Lake Placid region and resume the farm’s long history of climate monitoring.” 

"The Foundation is excited to partner with UAlbany and the Mesonet to support the re-establishment of a weather station in the Lake Placid area at the Uihlein Farm,” added John D. Leekley, chairman of the Uihlein Foundation board. “This will fill an important data gap as well as provide an invaluable resource for residents and visitors in our region.”

Real-Time Weather Monitoring 

Following Superstorm Sandy and several other extreme weather events in New York, FEMA provided the state with a recovery and resiliency grant to establish the Early Warning Severe Weather Detection Network in 2014, now known as the NYS Mesonet. 

The Mesonet network was completed in April 2018, with the University at Albany leading the design, installation and operation. Each of its existing 126 standard weather stations, spaced an average of about 19 miles apart across the state, are equipped with automated sensors that measure temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, pressure, precipitation, solar radiation, snow depth, soil information and also offer camera images. Most sites are powered by solar panels and use cellular communications to share data. 

A TV screen displays real time camera images from Mesonet sites across New York.
The Lake Placid location will be the Mesonet's 127th standard weather network site. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

In addition, several sub-networks of specialty sites have been deployed, including a Profiler Network of 17 sites that provide additional data about the atmosphere vertically (up to 6 miles above ground); a Flux Network of 18 stations that monitor surface energy; and a Snow Network of 20 sites that measure the water content of snow. 

Mesonet data is collected in real time every five minutes, feeding weather prediction models and decision-support tools for users across New York. The data is available for public viewing

“The Lake Placid site is a valuable addition to our NYS Mesonet network,” said June Wang, NYS Mesonet program manager. “As climate change impacts the Adirondacks, it will be crucial to continuously monitor the regional environment. I am excited to work with the foundation, the first nonprofit organization to co-sponsor a station, and promote education and public outreach opportunities at the farm.” 

Mesonet in Lake Placid 

The Lake Placid site is the Mesonet network’s highest site in the Adirondacks at 2,018 feet above sea level, behind only Hartsville (2,395 feet) in the mountains of Steuben County, Tannersville (2,332 feet) in the Catskills and Delevan (2,042 feet) in Western N.Y. 

Nearby, at a slightly lower elevation, is the Mesonet’s Whiteface Mountain site at the base of the mountain. UAlbany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center also operates the Whiteface Mountain Field Station atop the summit, which has been collecting cloud water samples for chemical monitoring for more than five decades. Data from the new Mesonet site will complement both locations.  

The Mesonet team plans to host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony once the Lake Placid site is fully operational.