New York State Mesonet Opens Lake Placid Weather Station

Mesonet researchers stand in front of the Lake Placid site on a cloudy day.
Mesonet researchers stand in front of the network's Lake Placid site.

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 6, 2024) — The New York State Mesonet, a statewide weather observation network operated by the University at Albany, celebrated the opening of its new weather station at Uihlein Farm in Lake Placid with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.

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 nonprofit private foundation. 

James McKenna, board member of the Uihlein Foundation, offers welcome remarks to attendees in front of the Lake Placid Mesonet site.
James McKenna, board member of the Uihlein Foundation, welcomes attendees at the opening of the Mesonet's Lake Placid site.

The farm includes a weather station with a 30-foot tower that was operated by researchers at Cornell University for more than 50 years before being returned to the Uihlein Foundation in 2020. The station has been modernized and converted into the Mesonet’s 127th standard network site. 

Uihlein Foundation Board Chair John D. Leekley shared his excitement during Wednesday’s event, noting that the new Mesonet site fits with Henry Uihlein’s intent 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 that is charitable in nature, while at the same time preserving the beauty of the area and preventing any commercial development or subdivision of the area,'” said Leekley. “As many of you know, his interests were agriculture, winter sports and education. We’re hitting all those buttons here.”

Mesonet in Lake Placid

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, install and operation. 

Each of the Mesonet’s 127 standard weather stations, spaced an average of 17 miles apart across the state, are equipped with automated sensors that measure temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, pressure, precipitation, solar radiation, snow depth and soil information, as well as a camera that photographs current conditions. 

UAlbany and Uihlein Foundation community members cut a purple ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Mesonet's Lake Placid site.
UAlbany and Uihlein Foundation community members cut a ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Mesonet's Lake Placid site.

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 on the network’s website and mobile app

The new location marks the first Mesonet site to be added to the network in partnership with a private entity.

“The Uihlein Foundation approached us in October 2022 and has supported us every step of the way. It’s been a pleasure to work with them,” said New York State Mesonet Director June Wang. “The Lake Placid station is providing much needed real-time weather information for the region, right in their back yard, instead of 10 or 20 miles away.”

North Country Weather Monitoring

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 (ASRC) 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.

A drone image offers an ariel view of the Mesonet site in Lake Placid with the Adirondack Mountains behind it.
The Lake Placid site is the Mesonet network’s highest elevation site in the Adirondacks.

ASRC researchers have also installed air quality monitoring sensors at the new site.

“This new station maintains a history of UAlbany and ASRC’s presence in this region for environmental monitoring and research. I’m very proud of that,” said ASRC Director Chris Thorncroft. “I look forward to a long and exciting relationship with the Uihlein Foundation and am thrilled to bring the Mesonet a little closer to Lake Placid.”

The Mesonet team was joined at the ribbon-cutting by Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin, Alison Webbinaro, North Country regional representative for Governor Kathy Hochul, Michale Glennon, a senior research scientist at the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute, and community members from UAlbany and the Uihlein Foundation.

Photos by Patrick Dodson