2014 Meltdown Updates
Tuesday, April 15th
The winner of the 2014 Meltdown is Lilly Daiber of Goshen. Lilly's pick of 11:45AM on April 14th was the closest to the actual time the block went down without going over. I spoke to Lilly last night and said that the $643.70 proceeds she won would pay for the gas she planned to use while driving out west this summer.
The 1937 Dodge Restoration Fund, thanks to additional donations received above and beyond ticket sales, will benefit from
Monday, April 14th
This is just a quick note to say that when I came home tonight,
the block was at the bottom of Hammond Pond. One look at the picture
taken this morning on my way to work, it wasn't a big surprise.
According to the unplugged electric clock, the official end of the contest came
at 11:51AM this morning.
I'll provide more details on the winner as soon as she returns my call.
Until next time, THINK SUMMER!
Sunday, April 13th
With temperatures in Goshen surging to 70 degrees today, signs of
Spring abound. From the peepers in the woods, flooding at the Oxbow in
Northampton, and a full parking lot at the Snack Shack in Williamsburg over the
weekend, there's been a clear shift in attitudes about the weather and it's
showing in our behaviors. Rakes have come out of the shed, bikes are back
on the roads and burning permits are flying off printers as fast as Canadian
geese are heading north. It won't be long before we start complaining
about mayflies, mosquitoes and high humidity.
However, we have to get through this week before those discussions can
begin. That's because a Spring cold front will bring over an inch of rain
to the region starting tomorrow night and into Tuesday. The best news is
that it is expected to end as snow in Goshen because Tuesday's overnight low
will drop to 25 degrees with a blustery west wind. Better yet,
Wednesday's high temperature will reach all the way up to 41 degrees.
Today's sunshine and warm temperatures have turned the condition of the ice to
translucent. Tomorrow will bring a carbon copy of today's sun, breeze and
warm temperatures. It will be interesting to see if the ice can hold on a
few more days just to match last year's date of April 16th.
While I was
at the dam snapping away, I noticed a large bird off in the distance. At
first, I thought it was a turkey vulture. That was until I thought I saw
a speck of white on it's head and tail. As it drew closer, I realized
that it was a bald eagle. We've seen them before at Hammond Pond so this
was the first time I had seen it this year. The bird was soaring from thermal
to thermal and at one point even came down on the ice at the northern end of
the pond. After a few minutes, it took to the air again and disappeared
Back to the block, the tilt is obvious. It's caused by the ice around the
pallet melting faster than the ice under it. The result is the tilt the
became even more pronounced today.
As a bonus, I stopped on the dam last night and took a time exposure shot of
the block that was lit by an almost full moon.
I checked the clock tonight just to make sure everything was in working
order. All conditions are a go.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Saturday, April 12th
With appreciation to all of your, I am happy to report that a
total of 1,373 tickets have been sold for this years contest. The dates
ranged from March 14th, to July 4th with the most popular days being April 18th
with 76 picks followed by April 12th with 69.
Last weeks milder weather and temperatures routinely in the 50's has definateley
thinned the ice. However, there's still an ice flow that goes from shore
The forecast over the next three days calls for sunny skies and temperatures in
the 60's and 70's. However, we're also looking forward to rain, snow and
sleet Tuesday in to Tuesday night.
Combine all these factors and it should come as no surprise that the clock is
Just a reminder that the contest ends when the tension on the rope pulls the
plug for the clock out of the outlet. That could come when the ice floe
floats away from the dam or when the block sinks.
These pictures that were taken yesterday.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Monday, April 7th
I was going to start this update by telling you that we had
certainly turned the corner on Spring. However, as I type this note, it's
snowing outside my window even though the thermometer reads 45 degrees (this
isn't an April Fool's joke).
You know that the rest of the world is thinking about the change of seasons
when newscasters are talking about mosquito outbreaks, West Nile virus and
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).
Canadian geese are making their annual migration northward but they aren't
using Hammond Pond as a stopover because the waterway is still covered shore to
shore in ice.
Last weeks rains melted what little snow that remained on top of the ice.
That same rain event also lifted the ice floe and made the cracks along the
shoreline that much more pronounced.
As expected, there was a flurry of ticket activity last week. I'm still
logging them into my database and will have a more detailed update later this
I've heard from friends living in Virginia who told me that the daffodils are
in full bloom and their grass is green. Believe me when I say that this
is not the case in Goshen where I still have a foot of snow in my back
yard. At 1,200 feet above sea level, winters linger and summers end early.
As you can see from the attached picture which I took tonight, the ice around
the block has melted away leaving the top of the pallet exposed. There's
a hole in the ice just a few feet from shore. This has happened in the
past but proved not to have any impact on the outcome of the event.
There are still two weeks to go before we can think of breaking the April 21st
record set back in 2007. Even though tonight's storm started out as snow,
we're still expecting to receive almost an inch of rain overnight. With
the long range forecast showing temperatures in the 50's and 60's over the next
week, the condition of the ice will start to change quickly.
Until next time, THINK SPRING
Saturday, March 29th
I think it’s fair to say that we’ve turned the corner on this
As we all know, ice floats. Whether the ice is in your drink or out in
nature, it’s going to float on top of whatever is holding it. Heavy rains
combined with snow melt introduced enough water to Hammond Pond this week that
the layer of ice covering the water actually separated from the
shoreline. Visible cracks have also materialized everywhere you look
thanks to the seasonal changes we are now experiencing.
The sap is starting to flow as evidenced by the steam pouring from the local
sugar houses. At long last, Major League Baseball parks will open their
gates Monday as the season kicks off in earnest. And, in another true
sign that Spring is near, I saw a flatbed tractor trailer carrying a load of
golf carts heading north on I91 this week followed closely by another one
loaded with commercial lawn mowing equipment.
While most of us weren’t paying attention, we gained 87 minutes of daylight in
the month of March. Assuming no significant changes in the spin of the
earth, we can expect an addition of another 79 minutes of sunshine in the month
The National Weather Service is forecasting a significant rain event over the
next 36 hours. Goshen is expecting to receive around 2-3” of liquid
precipitation between tonight and Monday morning. As an added bonus,
overnight temperatures on Sunday will drop below 32 degrees which will result
in a bout of freezing rain. With the ground still frozen, the water has
nowhere to go but downhill and through our pond.
In case you needed additional proof that the Meltdown contest has become a
global event, ticket submissions were received this week from Florida, Cuba and
Procrastinators beware. Ticket sales are quickly coming to a close.
Consider this a reminder that sales end on Tuesday, April 1st. Ticket
submissions that are postmarked on that date will be accepted if received later
in the week. Your window of opportunity to participate in this year’s
contest will soon be gone. If you need additional tickets, click here for
a sheet of them.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Monday, March 17th
While some of you might not trust the legitimacy of this email,
believe me when I say that this IS NOT an early April Fool's joke.
Procrastinators take notice. Based upon the current condition of the ice
on Hammond Pond in Goshen, the 2013 Meltdown contest has been extended for one
week. I will now accept ticket submissions until Monday, April 7th.
If you've been thinking about taking a chance on the contest but thought it was
too late, here's your chance to get in on the fun and show your support for the
good work being done at Camp Howe.
The forecast for the coming week calls for overnight temperatures in the teens
and low 20's. Welcome back to winter. As you can see from the attached
photo that was taken yesterday, there is still a layer of snow covering the ice
in spite of the mild temperatures we experienced over the past several
days. Yesterday's full sun had a definite impact on the depth of the snow
that's left. Slowly but surely, the ground under the snow is starting to
become more and more visible.
Saturday, March 16th
With the vernal equinox less than a week away, the woodpile is
getting low, the fire is still warm and the temperature outside is heading down
to zero. The forecast calls for continued cold temperatures and even more
snow on the way for Wednesday into Thursday. The National Weather Service
is also predicting that ‘another shot of very cold air will work into the
region by early next week’. They go on to say that we could be dealing
with near record cold.
Anyone besides me feel that it’s way past time for a meltdown?
I spent some time on the ice on Sunday with fellow Goshen firefighters Jake
Lulek and Dan Daley. We drilled a few holes in the ice with an auger so I
could measure its depth. I hope you enjoy the video we created. The
answer to this week's question is at the end of the short snippet. The
piece was first posted yesterday on the Meltdown’s Facebook page. If
nothing else, it has a summer theme I’m sure you’ll recognize and enjoy.
As many of you know, the proceeds from this years contest will benefit the 1937
Dodge Restoration Fund. This truck was purchased as a used vehicle in
1947 and served our region as an active engine for more than a decade.
Here’s a story about the truck that will help you understand its importance to
the history of our town.
Sometime in the late fifties after a fire, the Goshen Volunteer Fire Department
desperately needed to replace some suction hose that had been damaged beyond
repair. Problem was, the department was also very short on funds.
So, Chief Francis Dresser made a trade with Ed Ryan Sr. - a fire equipment
dealer and member of the Northampton Fire Department. Mr. Ryan wanted the
bell off the 1937 Dodge for the hose. The reasoning behind the trade was
simple. The bell didn't help put out fires but the hose did. How
can you beat logic like that? The deal was done.
Many years went by and Ed passed away. However, the bell remained in the
possession of Ed's son Ed Jr. who had also a member of the Northampton Fire
Department. Several years ago, he stopped in to see the Dressers and said
he had noticed the old Dodge parked behind the station. He wanted to know
if we were going to restore it. If we were, he would donate the bell back
to us. Deputy Chief Kim Dresser was aware of that conversation so when
the department started the restoration fund he reached out to the family.
The result was a phone call and subsequent meeting at the Dressers' home.
Ed Ryan Jr. returned the bell to Francis so it could be used in the restoration
of the 1937 Dodge in memory of his father. It turns out the bell had been
on the porch of their camp in Savoy MA. For a number of years, it was
used to call them back from fishing or to signal when dinner was ready.
When the camp was sold about ten years ago, the bell found its' way back to
Ed's house in Florence where it sat on a shelf in his garage.
After a sixty something year hiatus, the bell is back home. When you think
about it, Francis worked out a pretty good deal really. The Ryan's had
the use of the bell; the department had use of the suction hose and now we have
the bell back.
We received some much-needed publicity last week in the form of a story about
the Meltdown contest that was published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
With less than two weeks before ticket sales come to a close, the push is now
on. For those of you who that have submitted your tickets already.
Thank you. For those of you who are trying to figure out which day in
July might be a winner, please get your tickets in soon.
Until next time, THINK SPRING.
Wednesday, March 5th
In the month of February, Goshen received over 2 feet of snow and
experienced temperatures as low as 10 below zero along with one storm that
brought us heavy rain. However, with overnight temperatures that continue
to drop below zero, it's difficult to imagine that any type of Meltdown has
actually started yet. At this point in the season, I think it's safe to
say that the ice is actually getting thicker.
Goshen, Chesterfield and Williamsburg firefighters postponed their annual ice
water rescue drill a few weeks ago due to the cold temperatures. One of
our major concerns was having fire apparatus that are filled with water be
exposed to these brutal temperatures for an extended period of time. None
of us wanted to risk freezing our pumps.
I know people have started talking about the Meltdown. Last week, I went
to the Florence Barbershop for a haircut. Mike asked me if July 4th had
been taken yet. I told him no. Ticket sales have started to come in
from all over the country including places like Connecticut, New Jersey,
Florida and even Westfield (thanks Kathy and Ace).
The Great Lakes have been in the news recently because almost 90% of their
surface is covered in ice. With very cold temperatures over the entire
region (including New England) forecasted for the next several days, it won't
take much more for the 94.8% record from 1994 to fall. This is good news
for places like Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo because the lack of open water
provides a reprieve from the relentless bands of lake effect snow.
However, I can honestly say that Hammond Pond is 100% covered in a thick
layer of ice. I'll add Georgia McCarthy's house in Goshen to that list of
places that no longer has to worry about lake effect snow.
While I know that winter has a firm grip on us right now, I am happy to say
that Daylight Savings Time goes into effect this coming Saturday and the
official start of Spring is a mere few weeks away.
Despite of the fact that daily average temperatures are 15 to 20 degrees below
the norm, we typically see 70 degree days towards the end of March.
If you look at the unpaved roads in Goshen, you'll notice that most of them
look like regular dirt roads. Don't be fooled. In reality, they are
actually roads covered in a 2" thick layer of ice that has been embedded
with sand and rock salt spread by the Highway crew. This is the same ice
that will turn into mud in a months time.
The average bloom date for the hearty cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. is
April 4th. Representatives of the National Park Service announced this
week that in spite of this not being the snowiest or coldest winter on record,
they expect the peak blooms to occur later than normal but not so late that it
will beat the record of April 18th. While Goshen and the rest of the
Hilltown region will be months away forms seeing the first tree bloom, this
cold weather does help in the eradication or control of invasive species like
the wooly adelgid and the emerald ash borer. Those of us who live in the
woods understand and should be smiling over this news.
I snowshoed up Mt. Greylock over the weekend to participate in the annual
Thunderbolt ski race in Adams, MA. Temperatures at the base hovered in
the single digits below zero. The early morning sun provided some relief
from the cold, however, clouds overtook the region by midday. The entire
mountain was covered in a 2 foot blanket of white. The annual Ski Patrol
Competition, which was hosted by SkiButternut in Great Barrington this year,
took place under cloudy skies and a constant breeze coming out of the north
that left me cold until I got home to Goshen Sunday night and stood in front of
The forecast of the next several days calls for more cold weather with daytime
temperatures barely getting over the freezing mark with overnight lows in the
teens and single digits. When you compare that temperature to what we
experienced in much of February, it might tempt some people to break out the
The attached picture of the block and flag was taken this past Saturday.
If nothing else, it shows that we still have a long way to go.
Until then, THINK SPRING.
Monday, February 3rd
I find it fitting that the first 2014 Meltdown update is sent out
two days after Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and foretold another 6 weeks of
With the ice currently measured at 14" thick, the tradition continues.
As many of you know, the block sits on a wooden pallet that holds a flag.
The flag is simply a marker that shows where the block is if it gets completely
covered in snow. The block is connected to an electric clock by a
rope. The clock is plugged into an outlet in the gatehouse on the dam
holding back Hammond Pond. Once the block falls through the ice or the
ice floe moves away from the dam, the tension on the cord will pull the plug
out of the wall socket and stop the clock. It’s that straightforward.
This year’s fundraiser will benefit the Goshen Fire Departments 1937 Dodge
Restoration Fund. The 1937 Dodge was Goshen’s first fire engine.
The truck was purchased used in 1947 and put into service when the department
was established almost 50 years ago. To date, the Goshen Firefighter’s
Association has collected almost $7,000 towards a goal of $25,000 to restore
Regular contest updates will be posted on the Meltdown page. Additional
tickets can also be downloaded from this site using this link.
Participants that include an e-mail address on their ticket stub will be added
to a private e-mail distribution list that is used to provide periodic updates
and snapshots of the block. The current list includes several hundred
addresses of people who are regularly entertained by these updates. The
sooner your tickets are returned, the sooner you can become part of this
The deadline for ticket submissions is Tuesday, April 1st. Back in 2012,
the block fell through the ice on March 19th – almost two weeks before the
deadline. While I can only do so much to regulate the impact climate
change is having on our contest, something tells me that the cold will be
around longer this year. Tickets received after April 1st (unless they
were postmarked on or before that date) will be returned. This date is
weather dependent and will be irrelevant if the block falls through the ice
before the deadline.
Here are some statistics from the past 9 year’s of Meltdown events to consider
as you make your selections:
- The most popular dates were 4/1 (511), 4/10 (508), 4/4 (495), 4/2 (485) and
- The ratio of morning to afternoon picks was 25% and 75% respectively.
- 74% of all guesses were for dates between April 1st and April 21st (hint,
- Daylight savings time starts on Sunday, March 9th. Keep that in mind
when making your selection.
The official ends of the previous contests were as follows:
2013 – 04/16 - 12:19 PM
2012 – 03/19 - 2:14 PM
2011 – 04/14 - 12:44 PM
2010 – 04/02 - 11:52 AM
2009 – 04/05 - 11:02 AM
2008 – 04/16 - 3:04 PM
2007 – 04/21 - 12:00 Noon
2006 – 04/01 - 8:18 PM
2005 – 04/12 - 4:47 PM
Other significant dates to consider are as follows:
3/15 - The day winter ends according to Punxsutawney Phil
3/31 at 1:10PM – First pitch on Opening Day at Citi Field (Mets) in New York.
4/07 at 1:05PM – First pitch on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium against the
4/04 at 2:05PM – First pitch on Opening Day at Fenway Park in Boston against
the Milwaukee Brewers.
4/15 at 2:45AM – Day and time the Titanic sank in 1912.
Mail ticket stubs to P.O. Box 923, Williamsburg, MA 01096-0923 and please
make checks payable to “HAMMOND ACRES CLUB”
As always…THINK SPRING!