Cold Weather Dampens Northern Spring New England tourists can blame Canada for this weekend's cool and dreary weather. Brian Mann reports from Saranac Lake, N.Y., on the origin of the bad weather and the effect it's having on the region's travel industry.

Cold Weather Dampens Northern Spring

Cold Weather Dampens Northern Spring

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New England tourists can blame Canada for this weekend's cool and dreary weather. Brian Mann reports from Saranac Lake, N.Y., on the origin of the bad weather and the effect it's having on the region's travel industry.


Americans think of the Memorial Day weekend as the official start of summer, but in the Northeast it's barely been spring. Brian Mann reports that many locals are getting grumpy and some businesses are suffering.

BRIAN MANN reporting:

It was a long winter, and now from New York right across to Maine it's shaping up to be an equally long mud season. Mike Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts, says enough is enough.

Mr. MIKE JACKSON (National Weather Service): A lot of folks that have been calling here have been looking for the 80-degree temperatures, 80-, 90-degree. People are chomping at the bit. They want their summer now. I can understand that.

MANN: Coastal New England was hit last week by this sort of nor'easter you usually see in winter. The sky is still the color of wet slate, and forecasts sound like autumn.

(Soundbite of forecast)

Unidentified Man: The latest Burlington-area forecast: today cloudy, a chance of showers through early afternoon, then showers likely late, highs around 60, light north winds...

MANN: The steady rain is dampening the region's tourism industry. This part of the country sees a lot of road-trippers who stay home if the weather looks dodgy. Dave Scilly(ph), a river guide in New York's Adirondack Mountains, usually runs full tilt this time of year. Today things are dead.

Mr. DAVE SCILLY (River Guide): We had a group that called just the other day and talked about canceling our trip because the weather doesn't look great. And we said, `Hey, you know, if it rains a little bit or it stays cool, the bugs are definitely not going to be like they might have been on other Memorial Day weekends. So count your blessings.

MANN: Scilly admits that's not the kind of sales pitch that packs canoes. Just down the road Ted Campbell is also shaking his head. He runs Campbell's Greenhouse, where crates of pansies and snapdragons sit in the drizzle untouched.

Mr. TED CAMPBELL (Campbell's Greenhouse): Sales have been very, very slow, and obviously you can't blame the people. It's still 40s and cold and windy.

MANN: Frosts are still in the forecast at higher elevation. Campbell says his neighbors are starting to wilt, too.

Mr. CAMPBELL: We're all anxious. You know, we love the sun. It makes the plants stand up and take notice and makes us feel good. Oh, yes, we're ready.

MANN: Meteorologists say the culprit is the weather fixture in northern Canada called the James Bay Vortex. The pattern locks cold air and clouds over the Northeast; that keeps the ocean cool, which drops the shore temperature even further. People wind up running heaters instead of air conditioners. Even the brave and the stubborn are packing extra pairs of wool socks.

Mr. PAUL HUDDY(ph): Heading out to go camping. Actually we're on a fishing trip for the weekend, so we're going to take in some rain, or we're going to take in some sun, hopefully.

MANN: Paul Huddy's Jeep is stuffed with coolers and sleeping bags for his family's annual Memorial Day camp-out. He says people in this part of the country just have to gut it out.

Mr. HUDDY: One time it almost snowed on us, so we're not dissuaded by it. We have a good time. It's one of the times we get together and have fun.

MANN: The National Weather Service says this has been the third-coldest spring on record for the Northeast. The gloomy weather is expected to last for at least another week. For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann in Saranac Lake, New York.

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