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Snow knocks golfers off course, but not creatures

Thursday, April 17, 2014
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Tulip leaves are coated with snow on Wednesday in Albany. A cold front swept across the region Tuesday dumping several inches of snow in parts of upstate New York and an icy dusting in New York City overnight.
Tulip leaves are coated with snow on Wednesday in Albany. A cold front swept across the region Tuesday dumping several inches of snow in parts of upstate New York and an icy dusting in New York City overnight.

— Tuesday’s rare mid-April snowstorm caused problems for golfers. But not for insects and flowers.

Schenectady Municipal Golf Course postponed opening day on Wednesday. Golfers with morning and afternoon tee times were unwilling to tolerate snow on the greens and 30-degree temperatures.

Insects and flowers endured both conditions with ease. Timothy L. McCabe, curator of entomology for the New York State Museum and the state entomologist, said crane flies, stone flies, mosquitoes and moths are among insects currently active. All have prospered during April’s recent warm days.

“No impact at all,” McCabe said of the snow’s effect on spring fliers. “It doesn’t bother them a lick. . . . Bugs have evolved for periodic weather like this. It’s not unusual that they can handle temperatures below zero. Twenty above is not a bad thing at all for them.”

McCabe said people who saw insects on the wing over the past weekend saw bugs who wintered as adults. But even insect larvae and pupae, McCabe added, would not have been harmed by the spring snow.

“It was a solid 1 to 4 inches across the Capital Region,” said meteorologist Joe Villani. He said the snow, accompanied by wind in some places, was generated when a strong cold front from the west combined with moist air from the south.

“It’s pretty rare,” Villani said of the April accumulation. “It does happen around here, but most years we do not see snow this late.”

The recent weather contributed to some slight flooding in the village of Waterford at the Harbor Visitor Center on the Mohawk River. “There was a little bit of water over the wall in the parking lot, but that’s normal for this time of year,” said J. Bert Mahoney, village mayor. “There are some sump pumps running in people’s cellars. I’ve been watching the river gauges all day. If there is any [flooding], it’s very minor.”

Mahoney added the waters were “probably a couple inches” over the promenade wall at the center. “That’s not unusual for springtime,” he said.

Mahoney was not expecting any major trouble during the evening. “It looks like everything has crested,” he said.

As for snow, animals had no problem with the brief return to winter.

Rick Georgeson, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said wildlife has evolved to survive severe cold conditions. “So a couple more days of cold and snow should not have an appreciable negative impact on our wildlife,” he said in an email.

Like insects and animals, spring flowers had no problem handling the cold weather. Chuck Scott, president of the Men’s Garden Club of Albany, said people have seen crocuses in bloom. Tulip greens have sprouted.

“We had 2 inches out here in Altamont,” Scott said. “If anything, for that little blast of cold we had, the snow acted as an insulator. Plus, with the sun this high, it melts very quickly. By the end of the day, you won’t even know it happened.”

Scott added that the snowfall, like rain from a robust thunderstorm, adds nitrogen to the soil. And while air temperature dropped during the snowstorm — temperatures were in the 20s and 30s Tuesday night — Scott said soil temperature was not affected. “It didn’t stay cold long enough,” he said.

Other garden experts said spring frosts can happen into the middle of May. They said people should not panic when snow or unusual cold shows up in April.

Matt Daley, head golf professional at Schenectady Municipal, said about 30 golfers had been scheduled to tee off Wednesday morning. League play had been slated for late afternoon.

Daley also said when he saw the course’s snow-covered grounds early Wednesday, he knew it was not in playable condition. He even wondered if people would be able to play today.

“The good news is the sun was able to burn off all the snow, so we’ll be able to get out Thursday,” Daley said, adding people had to be looking forward to Wednesday rounds.

“Then you wake up and see the snow on the ground and it’s disappointing,” he said. “We made it this far, I guess another day can’t hurt.”

 
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