PDA

View Full Version : Wind Speed follow up



pointmasteriam
12-14-2006, 10:26 AM
Ok, I have been reading much as to why the wind speed is so high on Mt Washington. What I cannot find, however, is why is it not that same as say Grand Teton, or Mt. Hood, or any other peak in the world? I am an storm chaser and have been studying meteorology for 25 years as a child. I understand the concept of "squeezing" the air, so if that's really the case, the how different is the topography surrounding this mountain so much different than any other that would generate the wind force that it does?

Bill O
12-14-2006, 10:36 AM
The major difference....there are no weather stations on the top of Mount Hood or the Grand Teton. In the entire world there are only weather stations on top of a few dozen peaks, while there are hundreds of thousands of mountains.

Nobody denies the fact that there are windier places in the world, its just that nobody is there to measure the wind. It's possible that a col near Mount Washington named Thunderstorm Junction is even windier.

All that being said, I still think Mount Washington has a unique set of conditions that make it windier than the average peak. Topography, altitude, inversions, and frequency of storms all contribute.

pointmasteriam
12-14-2006, 10:48 AM
Completely understandable about the lack of weather stations on other peaks. I know that in the Teton range, there are weather "stations" as far as on top of the ski towers, but I have never seen such high wind conditions there.

Trekker
12-14-2006, 03:22 PM
Hi Folks - Stories I've heard concerning the winds on Mt. Washington have stated that there are three major "storm tracks" that converge into the White Mountains - the South Atlantic, the Gulf track, and the Pacific Northwest. It is the converging of these three systems that produces the intensity of storms and wind on Mt. Washington, as there certainly ARE other mountains that are higher and "more intense", but none that have that kind of convergence in one spot of so many storm tracks. That's why you're not seeing this kind of activity on Mount Hood or the Grand Teton. No doubt they're great mountains - great cross country skiing on the lower flanks of Mount Hood!! - but, to me, there's no place like the "Whites"!!

pointmasteriam
12-15-2006, 10:13 AM
Ok, that leads me to ask then, what about the mountains adjacent to Mt. Washington. Ya know that is the wind speed were as high as recorded on Mt. Washington that some of the other peaks in the area have wind speed stations as well. Something jsut ins't clicking with me in that regard. I can live with the argument that the storm systems converge nearby, but why just simply Mt. Washington in the White mountain range?

Bill O
12-15-2006, 10:27 AM
What other peaks have anemometers in the White Mountains? None that are over 5,000 feet. I think Cannon does, and they have recorded winds of over 180mph, not too shabby.

I think my arguments in the other thread about wind speeds make a pretty convincing case.

If you read the other thread I also talk about how the converging storm tracks theory is bunk. Yes, three major storm tracks converge on Mount Washington, but it is very rare that storms actually converge. The presence of the three tracks just means that Mount Washington is prone to more storms.

Here's my summary:

1. Mount Washington is tall compared to its surrounding peaks.
2. Mount Washington is smooth.
3. Topography aids in funnelling winds over the summit.
4. The landscape is relatively flat to the northwest and southeast.
5. Mount Washington is prone to many storms.
6. Stable layers above the summit act to squeeze winds.
7. There is a manned observatory with a staff devoted to accurately recording the winds.

pointmasteriam
12-15-2006, 10:42 AM
Bill

That's why I felt like I was missing something. I dont have a clue what other peaks have the wind speed indicators, but I just found it really odd that this 1 single solitude mountain top ahd the worst weather in the world when several miles in either direction are other tops that may have the same type of weather. But, never having been there, then I don't know obviously, just going off of logic in other mountain ranges. So I know where you're at with your explantion and understand completely....jsut one of those wierd things ya know.....

Mike D
12-15-2006, 11:31 AM
Sure, at any given moment, the weather on Mt Adams (or Jefferson or Monroe) might be worse than on Mt Washington, but I think the "World's Worst Weather" designation is bestowed on Mt Washington because it is the most prominent peak in a range affected by Bill's list of factors. It is the most remarkable mountain in a remarkable range in a remarkable region.

Plus, the "constriction" of air passing over the top is more extreme on Mt Washington, which creates higher winds than you would find on its shorter neighbors.

Patrad Fischroy
12-15-2006, 12:01 PM
I have often wondered this myself; I know that there are other mountaintops that do have structures and similar facilities albeit not a full-time staffed weather station. Pikes Peak comes to mind

(http://www.springsgov.com/units/pikespeak/)

I wonder if, at the danger of wresting the WWW (World's Worst Weather) title, non manned, automated devices could be packaged and deployed. Certainly with the experience gained from Mt Washington designs for such a system could be devised and tested as well. Looks like a possible grant proposal.

Having said all this I have to wonder what if any real value comes from the observations made here, that could translate into a reason for deploying such systems? Do the observations made on the mountain add to the ability to forecast weather in the valleys?
I certainly don't mean to trivialize the observatory in any way, I strongly believe in research for no other reason than knowledge itself. And earth observations are always needed, especially over long periods of time.

Bill O
12-15-2006, 12:50 PM
I wonder if, at the danger of wresting the WWW (World's Worst Weather) title, non manned, automated devices could be packaged and deployed. Certainly with the experience gained from Mt Washington designs for such a system could be devised and tested as well. Looks like a possible grant proposal.

Automated stations have serious limitations that have yet to be fixed. Mount Washington is the proving ground for this type of equipment, and Mount Washington almost always wins.

Icing is major problem that technology has yet to overcome. The best tool is still a crowbar. The pitot anemometer on the summit is heated to over 300F and it sill accumulates ice. Imagine trying to heat something to that level with solar power or batteries!

Without human intervention the thermometers would also become encased in ice and they would fail to give a proper reading.

I'm confident that a non-manned weather station will never take away Mount Washington's distinction.


Having said all this I have to wonder what if any real value comes from the observations made here, that could translate into a reason for deploying such systems?

There is significant value coming out of the Observatory every hour. Their observations alone are fed directly into numerical models that help forecast the weather. At 6,288ft the summit station acts like a probe in the atmosphere where weather data is hard to collect.

Patrad Fischroy
12-15-2006, 01:00 PM
I mostly agree with you on that. I guess that my point is that if unmanned modular systems could be deployed in more locations, the added information would be useful. As you said, having that "probe" into the atmosphere is a valuable tool. Even if it were only seasonable in some locations. Besides it is a good opportunity for the Obs folks to get some more grant money.

Bill O
12-15-2006, 01:18 PM
I guess that my point is that if unmanned modular systems could be deployed in more locations, the added information would be useful. As you said, having that "probe" into the atmosphere is a valuable tool. Even if it were only seasonable in some locations.

Where money allows they very much are. The Salt Lake Valley and surrounding mountains are a perfect example. It's called Mesowest and was largely funded and created to aid the 2002 winter Olympics:

Mesowest (http://www.met.utah.edu/cgi-bin/droman/mesomap.cgi?state=UT&rawsflag=1)

Zoom into Salt Lake city and the surrounding mountains. All these feed data into local models that help create an amazingly detailed weather model of Utah.

Like you mentioned, many of the mountain top locations are seasonal. They are used to record snowpack data (that's where all their water comes from) and to help forecast avalanches.

While they get 2 to 3 times more snow in Utah than Mount Washington, they do not have a riming problem. This allows these basic weather stations to be easily deployed.

post'r boy
12-16-2006, 10:26 AM
based on the opinions of veteran meteorologists that have staffed the observatory for many years,with their own data to back up their opinion,the wind speed record on mount washington will stand for an eterinity. one of those reasons is that the observatory has been moved to a different location.

afmrintern
12-16-2006, 10:45 AM
I'm largely against definate, infinates and can't happens. Because it hasn't happened from the northwest in the 25 years in this building doesn't mean that a hundred or 500 year blow from the NW won't come along and break the record...

The staff I worked with and talked to realize that it's not likely to happen from the SE again with the current setup, but the NW has given some strong gusts in the past above 180...

And...it's long been talked about adding another pitot to the SE side of the summit...

Bill O
12-16-2006, 11:30 AM
I'm largely against definate, infinates and can't happens. Because it hasn't happened from the northwest in the 25 years in this building doesn't mean that a hundred or 500 year blow from the NW won't come along and break the record...

The staff I worked with and talked to realize that it's not likely to happen from the SE again with the current setup, but the NW has given some strong gusts in the past above 180...

And...it's long been talked about adding another pitot to the SE side of the summit...

The climate record is very short for Mount Washington. Its entirely possible that the 231mph was just a 100 year event, or maybe it was a 500 year event.

I agree that the current location of the observatory is not the best for recording southeast winds. A great addition to the suite of instruments would be an anemometer on the southeast aspect of the mountain.

Mike D
12-18-2006, 04:58 PM
...Its entirely possible that the 231mph was just a 100 year event, or maybe it was a 500 year event.

Amazing that it happened a mere 2 years after the reoccupation of the summit for weather observations!

Bill O
12-18-2006, 05:05 PM
Amazing that it happened a mere 2 years after the reoccupation of the summit for weather observations!

Amazingly lucky or amazingly convenient?

Patrad Fischroy
12-19-2006, 08:26 AM
Amazingly lucky or amazingly convenient?


Do I detect a note of cynicism? Would you care to elaborate? This is, after all a note of extreme pride with the summit staff and others. Witness the hoopla a few years ago when there was another reported high wind event in the South Pacific, as I recall.

Mike D
12-19-2006, 10:36 AM
I think Bill was asking about my motives.

The record wind speed was confirmed by employees of the Blue Hill observatory via radio and the anemometer's calibration was later confirmed.


Do I detect a note of cynicism? Would you care to elaborate? This is, after all a note of extreme pride with the summit staff and others. Witness the hoopla a few years ago when there was another reported high wind event in the South Pacific, as I recall.

Bill O
12-19-2006, 11:05 AM
Do I detect a note of cynicism? Would you care to elaborate? This is, after all a note of extreme pride with the summit staff and others. Witness the hoopla a few years ago when there was another reported high wind event in the South Pacific, as I recall.

My only skepticism comes from the fact that in the 1930's people still lived in caves. Fire was the latest rage, and giant dinosaurs posed the greatest threat to human life. I pieced this together from "Far Side" cartoons.

Besides that, if it wasn't for skeptics the world record wind would be in Guam.

Patrad Fischroy
12-20-2006, 08:00 AM
Agree wholeheartedly, and I hope that my note was taken with the trace of humor that was intended.
Long live the skeptics!

Besides, what does Guam need with some record wind, they already have all of those beaches.