Record Rainfall Soaks Hudson Valley

SUNY New Paltz students who have seen a drop in outdoor activities will not be surprised to hear that 2011 has been officially recorded as the “wettest” year for Ulster County in 116 years.

An article from Your News Now (YNN) reported on findings by the Mohonk Preserve that 2011 has surpassed 1996’s record of total annual rainfall by .12 inches, with two months still left in the year.

The Mohonk Preserve is the largest private nature preserve in New York and protects the 7,000 acres of the Shawangunk Ridge.  Home to the longest continuous weather record in the world, the Preserve reports that August and September were the wettest months on record.

Gretchen Reed, director of communications for the Mohonk Preserve, said that tourism decreased during these two months because much of the rain fell on weekends, the Preserve’s busiest days.

Damages to the trails, particularly those after Hurricane Irene, would have proved devastating if it weren’t for the dedication of the Preserve, its Land Stewardship department and volunteers, Reed said.

“Our Land Stewardship department worked with volunteers to clear trees and clean trails quickly,” Reed said. “We were ready for visitors within two days of the hurricane.”

Amanda Dallara, third-year Italian Studies major and a frequent visitor to the Preserve, found many of her hiking trips complicated by the increased rain.  Dallara,  a resident of Queens, N.Y.,  makes time for hiking because it is something she can’t do in her hometown.

“Being a city girl, I love taking advantage of the trails. But the rain has made them slippery even on sunny days,” Dallara said.  “I like taking walks in town, but this rain makes me want to curl up in bed.”

Nick Dubois, third-year dual anthropology and photography major and active member of the Outing Club, sees the negatives and the positives to this year’s record-breaking rainfalls.

Dubois attributes the rain as the cause for many cancelled trips, from rock climbing to backpacking and camping in the Adirondacks, where trails are closed indefinitely.

“Our big Lake George trip this year was supposed to be a hit and everybody was trying to get a spot to go,” Dubois said. “But when the weekend came, so did the rain, so we had to cancel.”

Still, Dubois sees a bright side.

“Our white water rafting trip this fall was a blast,” Dubois said. “All the rain raised the water level up just enough to make a trip down the river unforgettable.  I’ve been white water rafting a dozen times, and the water this fall was by far the best I’ve ever been on.”

Despite the drop in visitors to the Preserve in August and September, Reed reports an increase in visitation in October.

“October is the most popular time for visitors,” Reed said. “We have been lucky to have had some really fantastic weekends.”

The Mohonk Preserve provides access to over 100 miles of carriage roads and trails for hiking, biking and winter sports.  The Preserve is open from sunrise to sunset year round and is currently offering discounted student memberships.