The 2007 Meltdown is over.
Official time of 12:00:11PM, Saturday April 21st
Monday, April 23rd, 2007
This year’s contest has been one for the record books. Not only did we beat last years tally with 962 tickets sold but also only a brave few souls dared to predict that the ice would last this far into April. Even this morning, there’s still ice on the lake – two days later than the previous record over the past 20 years of April 21st. Temperatures on Friday made it over the 70-degree mark. Overnight temperatures were below freezing which left a coating of ice on any standing water. Saturday would certainly be a test with nothing but sunshine and forecasted temperatures in the upper 70’s. It was only a matter of time.
I was down at the Springfield Firefighting Academy on Saturday when I received a call from my family just after noon telling me that the flag was only a few feet out of the water. The block had fallen. Sue opened the gatehouse and reported that the power to the clock had stopped at 12 o’clock and 11 seconds. The contest was over.
When I got home later in the afternoon, I fired up the computer to see who had won. Only Jackson Seifert had the foresight to pick April 21st. His family just happens to live on the lake. However, Jackson’s pick was 1:37PM, which put him past the time at which the block fell through the ice. Remember that the rules are the closest to the actual time without going over. He was over.
I received an e-mail from Steve Mollison on Friday telling me that his wife Diane had 4 o’clock that afternoon. Steve and his wife Diane have been lifelong residents of Goshen. He went on to say that based on the looks of the ice her chances of winning didn’t look good. He was only partly right. While it’s true that the ice didn’t let go on Friday, Diane’s guess of 4:10PM was the closest without going over. Diane beat out Valerie Clark of Corona Del Mar California by a mere 2 minutes. Valerie had guessed 4:08PM.
An article that appeared in last Wednesday’s Daily Hampshire Gazette mentioned that this years contest had made losers out of over 900 people. Diane’s pick was the 930th out of 962, which means that Mother Nature fooled 97% of all the participants. Not to worry, I count myself in that category as well. When I asked Diane what she was going to do with her winnings, she mentioned that her and her sisters get together each year for a girls weekend in Ogunquit, Maine. Hey Diane, in case you’re wondering, my t-shirt size is large.
The accounting for this year’s contest is almost complete. Diane will take home approximately $430. The Francis & Ruth Dresser EMS Training Fund will receive just under $450 thanks to some additional contributions that were made that don’t get counted as proceeds.
I want to thank everyone who helped make this years contest another success. I especially want to thank those of you that promoted the Meltdown by selling tickets to family and friends. Lastly, I would have not been able to pull this off without the help of my family before, during and after the event. You guys are the best.
I hope you enjoyed participating in our little fund raiser and that my updates brought smiles to your faces every now and then. If I was able to do that, then that’s my reward.
Until next time, THINK SUMMER!
Ice Age Endures - Spring Arrives but 'Meltdown' contest extended in Goshen
Thursday, April 19th, 2007
Like most people, I call home before leaving from work to see if there’s anything I should pick up on the way. Last night was no different. When I was talking to my wife Sue, I could hear commotion in the background. I started thinking and almost hoping there was going to be some news about the condition of the lake. Hannah, my 5-year old daughter wanted to talk to me. She was handed the phone and in an excited voice said “Dad, you won’t believe it. Your block is still on the ice!” I just smiled.
Here it is, the morning of April 19th and the block is still in a position where we can see it (at least it was at 7PM last night when I last passed by).
The Town of Goshen declared a State of Emergency on Monday due to the weekend nor’easter. I mentioned in my last update that we had received 7 inches of snow on Sunday. I’m guessing that the snow has now made it down to the Connecticut River along with most of the 6 inches of rain that accompanied it overnight Monday. Several of our local unimproved roadways (that’s a fancy term for dirt roads) washed out – especially ones that were near brooks and streams. The water level in Hammond Pond had risen 3’ from the storm but because the ice stretched from shore to shore there was little impact on its position.
If you look closely at the picture I took last night, you can see water along the shoreline and a stiff Northwest breeze blowing the flag straight.
We are now down to 45 picks by 29 people that still have a chance at winning. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that 9 of the 29 people live on the lake. They’re either real smart or real lucky. Three weeks ago, I would have said that they didn’t have a chance and I would have been wrong.
Local forecasters are pumping up the weather for the upcoming weekend. The long-range outlook calls for sunshine and temperatures nearing 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Translated, that means we’ll be in the upper 50’s here in Goshen. If the ice hasn’t melted by Monday, I’ve decided to take samples and send them off to Major League Baseball to be tested for steroids.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Sunday, April 15th, 2007
First of all, I’d like to offer my sincerest apologies to everyone that has been or will be affected by this weekend’s storm. I say that because I think I’m the one responsible for it. You see, last weekend while preparing for an Easter Sunday dinner with the family, I made the decision to put away all our snow shovels, ice choppers, skis, ski poles and snow shoes. Nor’easters never hit in the middle of April, right? To make matters worse, Sue went ahead and washed both of our cars yesterday. That’s why Goshen received 7 inches of snow today. We’re still expecting another 2 to 4 inches of rain on top of that before the storm makes its way out to sea sometime tomorrow. This turn of events should make things very interesting over the next several days. One of the things I’ll be watching for is how high the water level rises because of the heavy rainfall. It’s still possible that the clock will be stopped if the ice floe pulls away from the dam. That scenario, while possible, is unlikely because the prevailing winds come from the North this time of year which would push everything into the dam instead of away from it.
Earlier in the week, the shoreline had started to loosen its grip on the ice. The open water at the northern end of the lake was migrating ever so slowly south to where the block is located. As you can see in one of this weeks pictures, even the ice near the spillway has given way to water. Another indication that things are changing, the reflectors that I use to keep the rope up out of the ice have sunken through the ice. This leads me to believe that what ice is left is only a few inches thick. Did I mention that I didn’t see any ice fishermen on the lake this week?
After all is said and done, it comes down to this - there are 87 picks left made by 52 people who live in places like Stuart Florida, Corona Del Mar California, Newburyport Massachusetts and even Andrapradesh, India (not to mention all the places in between) over the next 20 days. The latest guess is May 5th at 2:30PM.
Recall from my last update that only once over the past 20 years has the ice lasted past April 15th. Were we talking about global warming in January when the temperatures were in the 50’s? Mike Landon, a meteorologist with the University of Albany, said in Friday’s weather update that tomorrow’s running of the Boston Marathon would experience the worst weather in its history with wind driven rains and hurricane force gusts. In case you forgot, that’s winds in excess of 75 miles an hour. I wonder how well the racers from Kenya will make out this year?
Would it surprise anyone if I mention that Spring arrived some 25 days ago? Let’s keep hoping that it will get here sooner or later.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Sunday, April 8th, 2007
Do you realize that it was warmer on Christmas Day than it was today on Easter Sunday?
We celebrated my daughter Alyssa’s 12th birthday today with the family while wind blown snow flurries danced outside our windows. I didn’t feel so bad when I saw what the golfers at the Master’s in Augusta Georgia were wearing. I guess it was cold down there too. Needless to say, the block is still perched atop the ice on which it was placed just over two months ago.
I’m not certain if any of you noticed the article on our friends at Joe’s Pond last weekend in your paper. Apparently, the Associated Press picked up a local article which ended up going nationwide. I know because I received copies of the article from many of you who participate in the Meltdown. The story gave a history on the Joe’s Pond Ice Out contest and how they expect to sell around 10,000 tickets this year along with many others like it.
Alas, our contest must have ended up on the cutting room floor because there was no mention of it. I think it’s only a matter of time. However, there was mention of the granddaddy ice out contest of them all – the Nenena Ice Classic in Nenana, Alaska (http://www.nenanaakiceclassic.com/). To give you a sense of why I refer to it as the granddaddy of them all, the total purse for this event last year was $250,500. They put a large tripod in the middle of the Tanana River and people pay $2.50 to guess when the ice will break up and the tripod will fall.
Being in Alaska, their ice gets a bit thicker than ours. As of April 5th, it was 48.8 inches thick. But get this; it’s currently mostly cloudy there and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about 25 degrees warmer than here in Goshen and they’re still in the dark because of the Alaskan winter. I don’t get it.
Back to our own contest, as of tonight, the date and time on 67% of the 962 tickets sold has passed. Evening temperatures in the 20’s has helped refreeze the open water at the northern part of the lake. If you look closely at this week’s picture, you’ll see an ice fisherman in the middle of the lake again. If it’s thick enough that he hasn’t fallen through yet, that tells me we’ve still got a long way to go before our contest ends. By comparison, the only thing left in Northampton’s Oxbow is the junk floating on the river left there earlier by ice fisherman. It’s only a matter of time until the warmer temperatures make it up the hill to Goshen.
Our current 10-day forecast calls for daytime temperatures in the low 40’s with evening temperatures still falling into the mid 20’s - well below freezing but perfect for maple sugaring.
Remember that the 2005 Meltdown contest ended on April 12th. My sense is that we will easily surpass that date this year. Another date I can share with you is that over the past 20 years, the latest the ice has lasted has been April 21st and that only happened once. Previously, the latest the ice went out was April 15th. Look for my next update in the middle of the week.
Until next time, THINK SPRING
Wednesday, April 4th, 2007
I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news.
The good news is that we’ve set a new record for ticket sales. Now that they’re final, I can report that 962 tickets have been sold for the 2007 Meltdown. That’s 19 tickets more than the 942 tickets sold last year and 6 more than the 956 tickets sold in 2005. If nothing else, at least we’re consistent.
As for the bad news, the 71 of you that made today the most popular date that the block would fall through the ice will be disappointed.
Clearly, there was a last minute surge in tickets. For those of you that are new to these updates, you might want to check out the April Fool’s spoof in the April 1st update below. I received an e-mail response from a participant expressing their displeasure in my tactics. They wrote in part “trying to alter the speed rate of the melting ice seems to distract from the overall odds of the contest”. I assured them that I would do nothing to alter the course of nature and explained the history behind what’s turned into a highly anticipated annual chuckle.
In my last update, I mentioned that the ice was still 15 inches thick in the middle of the lake. That wasn’t a joke. What seems to be a joke is the sleet that’s falling outside my window as I type this. The forecast calls for the sleet to change over to rain later today then back to snow tonight as the cold front moves in. One to three inches of snow are expected before this storm is over. If I was a betting man, and I’m not by the way, I am expecting the ice to go out sometime next week.
I’ve included a couple of graphs along with a picture that was taken yesterday morning in today’s update. I’m a bit disappointed in the dates that people have chosen. Over the past 2 years, participants were dead on when it came to the date the block dropped. This year, it appears you’re a week or so off but we’ll let Mother Nature be the final judge.
I’ll be sending out more frequent updates between now and when the contest is over to keep you informed of developments.
Sunday, April 1st, 2007
As I mentioned in my last update I was out of town last week. I was out west attending a flammable liquids training class at the University of Nevada Fire Science Academy. Not only did the class teach us how to extinguish large fuel fired conflagrations, it also provided me with an idea of how to heat up our little contest.
Over the weekend, and only after obtaining the appropriate permits from federal, state and local agencies, I was able to apply some of what I learned to the 2007 Meltdown. Ever since our bout with below zero temperatures a few weeks ago, I’ve been concerned with the thickness of the ice. My solution was simple – heat up the water to speed up the contest. Not only would I be able to share my training experiences with local fire departments, but I’d also advance the day I could finally go swimming in the lake again.
Well, after hours of preparation and burning enough diesel fuel to heat an average size house for an entire season, I’m sorry to say that it didn’t work. The ice in the middle of the lake is still 15 inches thick and the weather forecast won’t help matters much either. Forecasted highs over the next 10 days will average just over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. More importantly, the average evening temperatures will dip below freezing again so any melting done during the day will just freeze up again. While it might be somewhat mild over the next few days, it appears that we’re heading back to wintertime towards the end of the week with snow showers and evening temperatures in the lower 20’s.
Ticket sales have ended but I haven’t had the time to prepare a final tally. Suffice it to say that we’re over 900 tickets again. I’ll provide the final statistics in my next update.
Until then, THINK SPRING!
Sunday, March 25th, 2007
Puxatawney Phil was wrong.
That’s what I would have said last week as I was shoveling show. This week, however, I’m having second thoughts.
As you can see from today’s picture, Spring has truly arrived in God’s country. By the time you read this, all the snow will have melted off the lake leaving just ice.
The average high temperature for the next 10 days is 44.8 degrees Fahrenheit. This will be my first report where the average low temperature for the same period will be over the freezing mark at 33.5 degrees Fahrenheit. I think it’s safe to say that the meltdown had truly begun.
Dirt roads in our town are starting to soften from the effects of daytime warming. Sugar shacks are boiling as fast as they can and let’s just say that the ‘powder’ at Butternut where we ski allows for great turns in the soft snow.
This week saw ticket sales come in from California, Nevada, Georgia, Missouri, Maryland, Connecticut, Virgiania and New York not to mention all the local picks. As of this morning, 725 tickets have been sold. I’m hoping that there are several hundred in the mail because ticket sales end tomorrow. I will continue to accept tickets next week through the mail as long as they’re postmarked by 3/26.
I’ll be out of town next week so my next update may not come until next weekend. I’m sure my ice watchers will keep me posted if anything significant happens.
Until then, THINK SPRING!
Sunday, March 18th, 2007
This past weekend was one for the record books…
It all started Friday night with my evening commute. A late season nor’easter started bearing down on New England around Noon. My normal ride home takes me an hour. Even though many companies and schools had early dismissal, the highways were jam packed with people like me who thought if they waited out the initial rush to go home the roads would be less congested. Well, it seems that a lot of people had the same idea. It took me 2 ½ hours to get to Goshen from Windsor CT. You could see the marks in the center median where cars had gone off the road earlier in the day. Brake lights in the distance also clued you in to upcoming accidents.
When I finally got home, Sue was already outside with the snow blower clearing out the driveway. There was about a foot of snow on the ground by 8PM. When we came in around 9PM, we received a call from the Northampton State Police barracks that Goshen had declared a state of emergency due to the condition of the roads. As Goshen’s Fire Chief, Sue made calls to the rest of the department to make them aware that any overnight travel would be difficult at best. We decided that someone should be at the fire station in case of emergency so I packed up my sleeping bag and made the 3-mile trip to the center of town.
Thanks to Selectman Kevin Lacey, Lake Drive was plowed all the way to Pond Hill Road. The ‘hill’ on Pond Hill wasn’t nearly as passable. This was one of those days where I was happy to have 4-wheel drive. In my opinion, it would have been impossible for normal passenger cars to get through. I was greeted at the firehouse by Dustin Culver, one of our Firefighter / EMT’s. Dustin had the presence of mind to move our 4-wheel drive ambulance to the front of the garage bay before I got there. We laid out our gear and hoped for the best. Firefighter / EMT Ken Whitten joined in on the fun around midnight. Between the three of us, the town was covered. Luckily, there was no need for our services. Click here to see pictures I took around town that give you a sense of what impact the storm had on the area.
With that all said I could only chuckle at the commercials that are slowly making their way to our television screens. For example, did you know that the Masters golf tournament tees off in 2 weeks? Has anyone been watching the NCAA basketball tournament? Have you noticed the ads for Scott’s Turf Builder for a greener lawn? My lawn is buried under 2 feet of snow. Adding Turf Builder to my lawn hasn’t even made it to my to do list. Did you also know that Spring starts in 2 days? Not by Goshen standards, it doesn’t.
Electricity in the gatehouse was turned on last week and the clock is now running (see picture below). While I was hooking it up yesterday, Georgia McCarthy drove by and told me she would be tearing up her ticket for 3/19 at 5:26PM. I also told her that she still had a week to submit new tickets now that the deadline was extended to Sunday, March 25th.
Not surprisingly, there’s been a surge in tickets receipts. As of today, we’re up to 518 tickets sold and I know more are coming in. Thanks for all your support!
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
In spite of the foot and a half of snow from the weekend's storm, as you can see from the picture above there's a 2 inch layer of water between the snow and the ice. One has to ask oneself if the snow is acting as a blanket that's melting the ice below or is it shielding it from the Sun which keeps it thick enough to support the weight of a truck?
Here's a picture of the clock in the gate house. The yellow cord is the rope that's connected to the block on the ice. It's tied to a loop in the extension cord of the clock that's plugged into the outlet. The plug will be pulled out of the socket when enough tension is applied to the rope,
Thursday, March 15th, 2007
This is what the lake looked like this morning before I went to work. The entire lake was covered in a shroud of fog that didn't touch the ice because it was still cold. Can you say inversion? The water you see is real. We had 0.2" (2 tenths of an inch) of rain overnight which added to the water that used to be ice a few days ago thanks to the near 60 degree temps. However, a good ol' nor'easter is scheduled to arrive tomorrow and blow into the weekend. There goes my evening commute...
Monday, March 12th, 2007
For the past 2 years, the ticket deadline has been March 31st. The rationale behind that thinking was the historical trend that indicated the ice would melt sometime after that date. Last year, however, a milder winter advanced the ice out date by several weeks, which brought about a surge of ticket receipts on that last day and caused me to re-think the deadline. Surprisingly enough, last year’s winner had submitted her guess months earlier.
After careful consideration, I’ve decided to extend the deadline for accepting tickets by one week to Sunday, March 25th. This will allow you procrastinators and snow birds a chance to do some further research and get their tickets in. Always in a helping mood, I’ve taken the liberty to do some advanced research for you.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicted near normal winter temperatures for the Northeast. They also felt that precipitation and snowfall would be near or slightly below normal. They were a bit off the mark with the thought that the snowiest periods would be in mid-November, in mid-December and just before Christmas, in mid-February, and in early and late March. If you recall, December and January were unseasonably warm. We didn’t even have ice on the lake until mid-January. The Almanac predicted the coldest temperatures would occur in mid to late January, with other cold periods in late December, early January, and much of February. As for April and May, they would be drier than normal, despite an early April snowstorm.
Fast forward to reality. Last week, we experienced three nights where the temperature fell below zero. In spite of a period of rain Saturday night into Sunday, there’s still snow on the roof of my house. While the lower Pioneer Valley experienced unseasonably warm temperatures yesterday, the dirt roads in the Hilltowns are still relatively solid. I have noticed that the sap is running as many of the local sugar shacks are now boiling. The current 10-day forecast calls for daytime temperatures for Goshen to average 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime lows are expected to average 28 degrees so there’s still plenty of cold out there.
Of the 344 tickets sold to date, only 6 picks have gone by. The range of dates still stands between February 28th and May 1st with the most popular date being April 4th.
As you can see from the picture I took on Sunday, there’s still plenty of ice and snow on the lake. My kids took advantage of a half-day of school last Friday by enjoying an afternoon of sledding on our beach.
In closing, take advantage of the extended deadline and get your tickets in before Sunday, March 25th. Thanks again for your continued support.
As always, THINK SPRING!
Monday, March 6th, 2007
From Allen to Zimmerman, people of all walks of life are taking part in the 2007 Meltdown. As of today, 252 tickets have been sold with picks ranging from 2/28 to 5/1.
The weather of the past week has been anything but normal. Mother Nature was working overtime last week when she brought us everything from bright sunny days to several inches of rain to deep winter whiteouts. She even threw in a lunar eclipse over the weekend as a bonus. Temperatures have also been all over the place. While many places in the lower Pioneer Valley enjoyed temps in the 40’s, Goshen barely made it above freezing. Roads turned into skating rinks Thursday night as the rains of the day were met with temperatures in the 20’s at night causing numerous car accidents.
Did anyone notice all the attention we received last week? All the major news outlets including CNN, Fox, ABC and NBC provided coverage of the Meltdown of 2007. I never realized we could have such an influence on Wall Street. The way I see it, the stock market started sliding soon after I put the block out on the ice back in early February. With that in mind, I predict the slump will turn around as soon as the ice starts to melt and lead us to a nice recovery within the next several weeks.
I’m writing this on Tuesday morning as the temperature outside is hovering just below 0. We were very thankful there weren’t any local fire calls last night because the combination of the strong winds and below zero temperatures would have made for very difficult working conditions. The 10-day forecast calls for average daytime temperatures of 32 degrees with nighttime temperatures averaging 21 degrees. These averages are somewhat misleading because temperatures next week look like they’re going to return to more normal levels with daytime highs near 40 and nighttime lows right around the freezing mark.
I think it’s safe to say that there really hasn’t been much melting going on around here. However, with the sun climbing higher and higher in the sky, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll start seeing daffodils peeking through the ground.
For those of you still contemplating your choices, keep in mind that Daylight Savings Time goes into effect this coming Sunday at 2AM. Be sure to factor that one-hour change into your calculations. It could mean the difference between winning and losing.
Until next time, THINK SPRING.
Sadurday, March 24th, 2007
It's winter wonderland time in Goshen. Last night's clipper dropped another 5 inches of snow in the hilltowns and coated everything with a white veil. This was one of those mornings where you took your time to get to work so you could enjoy the splendor that surrounds you.
Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
With nighttime temperatures sliding down into the single digits, it's hard to believe that the 2007 Meltdown has actually begun. Add to that the 12 inches of snow we received on Valentine's Day and I'm sure there is doubt in the air. Oh, and did I mention that Puxatony Phil didn't see his shadow? Let me assure you that as things start heating up with ticket sales, so will the ice on the lake.
Even though we're in the beginning stages of this fundraiser, patterns in the ticket sales are starting to form. As has been the case in past years, late afternoon times seem to be very popular. As a reminder, last year the block sank at 8:28PM.
With the earliest pick so far of 02/28, some of you are taking all this talk about global warming to heart. On the other end of the spectrum, one global warming skeptic has picked 5/1 as their time. While I'm not one to offer too many hints as to what I believe will be a good pick, I think it's safe to say that it will happen sometime between these two days.
I received an e-mail from a friend of mine with what he thinks is the winning pick - the date the Titanic sank - April 12. As a member of the Titanic National Historic Society, he felt it appropriate. If you want to know what time he listed, you'll have to do some research to figure that out. This shows how clever some people can be with their choices. Last year, there were those who chose the exact date and time the first pitch was thrown at Fenway Park. How can anyone wonder why I have so much fun doing this?
The above picture of the block and flag was taken on 2/14 during the snowstorm. As you can see, the pallet is buried and the flag is straining to stay attached to the pole.
The 2007 Meltdown has begun.
It was 17 degrees on Saturday night, February 3rd when I finally had the time and the nerve to walk out onto Hammond Pond with a 69 pound concrete block. The ice had been frozen for a few weeks, the weather had been cold and our first 'major' snow storm of the 2006 ~ 2007 season deposited a fluffy 4 inches of snow on the ground. It was around 8 o'clock at night. A biting wind was blowing from the north and I found myself out on a snow-covered lake that was illuminated only by the moon and the headlights of my car.
All I could picture were the headlines in the morning papers "GOSHEN RESIDENT DROWNS AFTER WALKING ON THIN ICE WITH CONCRETE BLOCK", or "OFFICIALS RULE OUT FOUL PLAY AFTER TRAGIC ACCIDENT TAKES THE LIFE OF MELTDOWN CREATOR" as I prepared to take my first steps on the ice. I could hear my wife's voice in my head saying "Don't go out there by yourself" while I was trying to decide where to place the flag. Then, it happened. The ice cracked. Words can't describe the feeling that comes over a person when you're standing on ice when it cracks under your feet. The sound and sensation of a crack in an expanding ice floe will certainly get your attention ~ especially when you're standing in the middle of it.
In case you've forgotten, December and most of January was downright warm. As I mentioned before, ice hadn't formed on the lake until mid-January. I had several friends suggest that I should have changed the name of the Meltdown to the Ice Age. In order to win, people would take a chance at guessing the exact day and time I could walk across the ice carrying the block without falling through. Of course, if I did fall through, I'd have to try again the next day and the day after that, until I made it across. Did I mention that suggestion came from my friends?
Ticket returns have already started coming in. This years honors go to members of the Granby MA fire department. They were the first ones to get their tickets in to me.
As a result of global warming (and whatever is causing it), ticket sales will end on Sunday, March 18th so please plan ahead. If you need tickets, click on the link above the picture. That will open up a PDF file that you can print and mail back to me at the following address:
2007 Meltdown, P.O. Box 923, Williamsburg, MA 01096
Please make your checks payable to "Hammond Acres Association, Inc.". Once again, the Hammond Acres Association has agreed to sponsor this years event.