Last week I got to experience “sap snow.” This is an unusual phenomenon where snow is falling above freezing (mid-30s), and maple sap is running fast into the buckets. As you might imagine, snow normally requires freezing or below temperatures, while sap demands freezing nights followed by warm days (normally in the 40s). Long story short, snow can fall when it’s above freezing if the upper atmosphere–where it forms–is cold enough followed by a narrow band of above-freezing temperatures near the ground. As for sap? Well, not sure why it seems to run so much when this occurs. Maybe lower barometric pressure causes a “natural vacuum” or lower pressure outside the tap-hole causing sap to flow more readily? Who knows. All I can say is that when sap does run in the 30s, it’s the best quality: clear, insect-free, and sweet. It’s also a time when snow sticks to the trees, filling in their dormant, leafless canopies and casting a beautiful “winter shade.”  

May the Forest Be with You,


Ryan Trapani

Director of Forest Services

Catskill Forest Association