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March-April 2012

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Fall Snowliage: Photographing an Unusual October Storm

This, which to me is a sad disaster, to my master Don Quixote would be a rare adventure.

—Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote

The most beautiful photograph of fall foliage I have ever seen hung for several years on the wall behind the front desk in the Adirondak Loj. It was a panoramic shot of the heart of the Adirondacks taken from Mount Jo. Heart Lake down below in the foreground was engulfed under steam fog and ringed by a forest in peak fall foliage—brilliant reds, purples, oranges, yellows, and greens. The sky above was deep blue with white clouds alternately shading and illuminating patches of land below. At about 3,000 feet, a sharp snow line separated the glorious foliage below from the snow-capped high peaks of the Adirondacks. I hoped but seriously doubted that I would ever have the opportunity to see such a superlative scene.

STANLEY DAVID GEDZELMAN is a Professor of Atmospheric Science at the City College of New York and a long-time contributor and Executive Editor of Weatherwise Magazine.

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