Weather rambling — Sleighing in May
If April showers bring May flowers, what do May snow showers bring? — good sleighing weather.
At least that was the case in 1832, according to a “well-known citizen” from Glens Falls who had a good memory.
“‘Fifty-four years ago today,’ said Ethel Shaw, a well-known citizen, addressing a Star reporter last evening, ‘the ground was covered with fifteen inches of snow,” The Morning Star of Glens Falls reported on May 15, 1886. “‘I went to the foot of West Mountain and drew a load of wood on sleighs.’”
Snow was still seen on mountain peaks in late May 1886.
“Dix Peak, Maple Top and Mount Marcy are white with snow at the present writing, as seen from Bruce Hall, at this place,” The Horicon correspondent to The Morning Star wrote on May 25, for publication on May 28.
In the valleys, spring was well underway.
“Crops look splendid, and grass never looked better. … Trout fishing is now in order, and sportsmen are happy.”
In 1887, April showers brought yard work, horse-back riding and farm chores.
“The click of the lawn mower is heard in the land,” The Morning Star reported on May 10.
“With the inauguration of pleasant weather, many of Glens Falls’ fair equestriennes may be seen cantering through the most prominent thoroughfares every evening,” The Morning Star reported on May 12.
At Wevertown: “The weather here is very warm, but not too warm for farming, and the farmers are improving the time while it lasts.”
It had been a good time for a fishing getaway.
“Justice F.E. Ranger and party returned from their annual Lake George fishing tour last evening, browned by the sun’s rays and refreshed in body by their sojourn at the justice’s cottage on Ranger’s Island in the Narrows,” The Morning Star reported on May 12.
Temperatures in Washington County fluctuated.
“Tuesday the mercury registered 90 degrees in the shade, and Monday and Wednesday it was about the same,” The Granville Sentinel reported on May 13. “This morning it was about 20 degrees cooler.”
It would be the start of a short dry spell.
“Nearly every one of the Sentinel’s esteemed and vigilant correspondents have had something to say regarding the drought in their communities this week,” the Sentinel reported on May 17. “Although put in type, they are knocked out. Yesterday’s rain is the cause.”
If not happy with the weather in May 1888, one could wait a day or two for it to change, but not always for the better.
“The complaints about warm weather that were heard on Saturday and Sunday have given place to shudder and overcoats,” The Morning Star reported on May 3, 1888.
Weather conditions in the Glens Falls area were inconsistent.
Generally, weather in early May was favorable to farmers.
“Oats are nearly all sowed, and a considerable number of pieces of potatoes are planted,” the Hartford correspondent reported in The Morning Star on May 11.
But it turned cold again.
On May 14, the ground at Johnsburg was frozen sold and there was snow on the top of Gore Mountain.
“The calendar maker and the weather clerk are evidently at variance,” The Morning Star reported. “While the calendar tells us that it is May 17, the fellow that deals out the weather persists in giving us a condition of those suitable for February and March rather than for the month of sunshine, budding foliage and sweet song birds.”
A precise temperature was not reported, but it was cool enough that some rekindled coal burners.
“Those who extinguished the fires in their coal stoves found it necessary to start them again yesterday or resort to the process of hugging the kitchen stove.”
The Lake George correspondent was optimistic.
“Everyone is busy with their spring work, not withstanding the cool weather. Everything in vegetation is well advanced, and when a chance rift comes in the clouds that have hung over us for so many days, the sun steals a shy glance through, just enough so we are cheered by the beauty it leads for the moment to nature.”
The Chestertown correspondent was not so optimistic.
“Farmers are complaining of the cold, backward spring.”
The Rev. Wooten, the local Quaker pastor, expected that the lateness of spring weather would diminish attendance at the annual New York Society of Friends annual meeting at Glens Falls, The Morning Star reported on May 22.
“I do not anticipate as large a number of attendants as usual, however,” he said. “The reason must, of course, be obvious. It is this: Many of our people are farmers, and the season has been so backward that they are now in the midst of their work.”
Those that did make it, found ideal weather at Glens Falls for opening day on May 24.
“The very pleasant weather suits all, as neither over coats or fans are needed.”
North Hudson farmers made productive use of their time despite week of saturating rain, The Granville Sentinel reported on May 25.
“Farmers who could not plow last week in consequence of the rain improved their time by drawing off potatoes at fifty-five cents per bushel.”
The month ended with optimum weather for Memorial Day.
“Nature donned one of her heartfelt May day smiles Wednesday morning, as if determined to do all she could to enthuse our citizens in the patriotic duty of paying tribute to our country’s dead, and strewing beautiful floral offerings on the green mounds that mark their last resting place,” The Morning Star reported on June 1.
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