March 22nd, 2012 - The Contest is Over
I received a number of calls on Sunday from people saying that the block had gone through. Each time I went to check the clock to see if it had stopped I noticed a number of vehicles slowing down and checking out the pond as they drove by on South Chesterfield Road. Even when we were called out for a motor vehicle crash Sunday at 3AM, the flashing red lights of GFD’s Car 1 illuminated the flag enough as we passed by it to let me know that nothing had changed. I was actually at the back of the gatehouse on Monday taking pictures when I saw the rope move. The motion made me think that a fish had just nibbled the end of my line by the way it became taught. However, in this case, the ‘fishing line’ was actually the rope attached to the block. When I unlocked the gatehouse door to check on things, the extension cord had been pulled and the clock had stopped.
Until next time, THINK SUMMER!
March 15th, 2012 - Blown Away
Warm temperatures are starting to have an impact on life in the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. Those of us that live on dirt roads know that their surfaces have gotten soft in spots as mud season has emerged. Our fire department had a drill down in Williamsburg on Tuesday night where we noticed the familiar drone of blood sucking mosquitoes buzzing around our heads as we worked outside. There’s something wrong with the world when mosquitoes make a showing before peepers do. Does this mean that we’ll have mayflies in April? Will March showers bring April flowers? Has anyone else noticed the spiders and stink bugs in their houses besides me?
When you look at the two pictures below of the northern part of Hammond Pond, notice the silimarities between them then recognize that the first one was taken this year on March 15 while the other one was taken last year on April 7th. Said another way, the amount of open water on Hammond Pond today was equivalent to what the pond looked like a week into April of 2011.
March 9th, 2012 - Blown Away
You know how every now and then something happens that just blows you away? Well, that’s what happened to me this past week.
Goshen received a 9″ blanket of snow last week – it’s first real storm since the pre-Halloween dumping we were hit with last October. As is normally the case with these types of storms, lower elevations received a coating of slush that was mostly washed away by a lingering rain. The mild temperatures that reached the Hilltowns following the storm caused the snow mass to start melting fairly quickly. However, overnight temperatures that dipped down to the single digits one night and teens on the other added an additional 4″ to the ice on Hammond Pond.
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), this past meteorological winter (Dec-Jan-Feb) marks the 4th warmest one on record in the US with temperatures across the entire country averaging 4 degrees higher than normal. Thanks to a jet stream that’s running well up into northern Canada, arctic air that normally finds it’s way to the lower 48 has been trapped at its source. That was evident this week when temperatures soared into the 60’s – even in Goshen. As you can see from the attached picture, the combination of that recent snowfall coupled with record-setting warmth left puddles on top of the ice. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see that one of the reflectors holding up the rope has sunk through the ice. When I brought my daughter to the bus stop this morning, I noticed that a second reflector had since fallen through as well. To me, that’s a sure sign that the ice has been impacted by warm water below and warm air above. While I’d love to walk out onto the ice to cut a hole in it and measure it for you, there’s a problem in that there’s now open water between the shore and the ice shelf.
What’s ironic about this whole winter is that it’s snowing outside right now as I write this update.
Oh, that something that blew me away? It was you. My wife Sue went up to the firehouse this week and came home with two envelopes. One very thick envelope contained 166 tickets from Tim Garner and what I refer to as the Northwest Territory. Tim lives in Cheshire (a small town like Goshen in the northwest corner of Massachusetts) and has been a strong supporter of the Meltdown for years. The tickets he submitted came from the Berkshire County towns of Adams, Cheshire, Dalton, North Adams, Pittsfield and Uruma City Japan where his brother lives. The other very thin envelope had a note from John April that read in part “This check is for 1,440 tickets, one for each minute of (date omitted).“
Many of you are new to the Meltdown contest and are receiving this e-mail for the first time. For your benefit, John did the same thing for last years contest. Thanks to his continued generosity, over 2,000 tickets have now been sold. In addition, another $100 has been received in direct donations to the fireworks display.
We had a good week.
Looking ahead, overnight temperatures tonight and tomorrow night will dip into the low 20’s. That should firm up the ice a bit. However, the forecast for Monday and Tuesday is calling for temperatures in Goshen to reach into the 60’s. Sunny skies on Monday followed by showers on Tuesday have me planning to hook up the clock this weekend. As a reminder, ticket sales come to an end on April 1st unless the ice goes out before then. If it does, I will not accept any ticket sales that I receive on the day the block sinks. Said another way, if you were waiting for the last minute to submit your picks, the last minute may be right around the corner.
Here’s another update from the ice. In this video snipit, I use my chainsaw to cut a small hole in the ice in order to measure its thickness. Even though we’ve had some fairly mild temperatures over the past week, the ice still measures 9 1/2″ thick.
Feb 24th, 2012 - The Wacky Winter Continues
Here’s a short video update from the ice on Hammond Pond:
Feb 6th, 2012 - The 2012 Meltdown has Begun
Well, actually, it seems that it’s been going on for some time thanks to this winter’s unseasonable weather. While I find it hard to believe, 2012 marks the 8th year of Goshen’s version of a winter classic.
THE RULES – come closest to guessing the exact day and time that a 69-pound concrete block falls through the ice (without going over) and you’ll win half of all the proceeds.
The block sits on a wooden pallet that holds a flag. The flag is simply a marker that shows where the block is when it gets completely covered in snow. The block is connected by a rope to an electric clock. 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 Chesterfield’s 250th Anniversary Community Fireworks display. The fireworks are the culmination of a weeklong celebration of Chesterfield’s incorporation into the Commonwealth and will be shot off from the Cummington Fairgrounds on Saturday, July 7th. For those of you who would prefer to make a donation straight to the cause, you should know that 100% of those funds will go directly to the community fireworks fund.
Regular updates will be posted on the website of the Goshen Fire Department. Additional tickets can be downloaded from this site using this link (http://www.goshenmafire.com/
The deadline for ticket submissions is Sunday, April 1st. If you recall from last year, the deadline was moved up a few weeks due to the effects that climate change is having on our contest. Tickets received after that date (unless they were postmarked on or before 4/1) will be returned. This date is weather dependant and might be made irrelevant if the block falls through the ice before then. If the block sinks before 4/1, only tickets received before the final day will be accepted as valid entries. It’s safe to say that this winter’s weather borders on the unusual. I intend to continue to make this event fun and will do my best to keep it fair to everyone.
Here are some statistics from the past 7 year’s of Meltdown events to consider as you make your selections:
- The most popular dates were 4/1 (409), 4/10 (417), 4/4 (400), 4/2 and 4/12 (396) and 4/15 (376).
- The ratio of morning to afternoon picks was 25% and 75% respectively.
- 81% of all guesses were for dates between April 1st and April 21st (hint, hint)
- 33% of all guesses have been for times between 2PM and 4PM in spite of the fact that the block has only gone down once over the past 7 years in that timeframe. Remember, the winner is the person who is the closest to the exact time the clock stops without going over.
- Daylight savings time starts on Sunday, March 11th. Keep that in mind when making your selection.
The official end of the previous contests were as follows:
- 2011 – April 14th at 12:44PM
- 2010 – April 2nd at 11:52AM
- 2009 – April 5th at 11:02AM
- 2008 – April 16th at 3:04PM
- 2007 – April 21st at 12:00 Noon
- 2006 – April 1st at 8:18 PM
- 2005 – April 12th at 4:47 PM
Other significant dates to consider are as follows:
- 4/13 at 1:05PM – First pitch on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium in New York
- 4/13 at 2:05PM – First pitch on Opening Day at Fenway Park in Boston, a park that has been around since 1912.
- 4/15 at 2:45AM – Day and time the Titanic sank in 1912
As always…THINK SPRING!