Winter can produce some unusual conditions on Greenwood Lake. It has been an ice harvesting source for ice houses on the lake, a racetrack for ATVs, and on February 23, 1926, a frozen platform for launching the first successful rocket-propelled US airmail delivery attempt.
After take-off, the plane landed and skidded, took off again, completed a 400-yard flight and finally crash landed in New Jersey. Then German rocket designer, Willy Ley, removed the heavy mail bag, placed it on a nearby sleigh, which the postmaster of Hewitt, New Jersey later delivered to his post office and stamped. Visitors to Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park can view a stone monument to this event.
But the lake, in combination with Mother Nature, can also create unusual environmental conditions, covering the trees, bushes, and structures in the region with a natural glaze, coating each branch and blade of grass with a frozen layer of insulation from a more damaging cold front that plunged the temperatures into single digits.
Orchard and vineyard owners in California and Florida know about the protection this layer of ice can afford their citrus fruit and grapes, which can be lost to frosts and freezes when they are exposed to temperatures below 28 degrees F or lower for four hours or more. That’s why many fruit farms are equipped with microsprinkler spray jets that discharge water at between 5-50 gallons per hour. Heat is released when liquid water freezes. As long as the water is continuously applied to the plant, the heat created can keep the plant at or near 32 degrees F, just enough to ward off losing the fruit.
Although there are no citrus farms or vineyards in Greenwood Lake, the effect of nature’s glaze is visually dramatic. But the layers of ice can damage some trees. While coniferous varieties (pines and spruce) are usually more resistant to damage, deciduous varieties (oak, maple, ash) are more likely to be affected by icy coatings. Experts recommend waiting until the ice melts and to get an arborist’s opinion if you are unsure about pruning certain branches, should this need to be done.
After take-off, the plane landed and skidded, took off again, completed a 400-yard flight and finally crash landed in New Jersey.