View Full Version : New Windswept and OBS Time

10-16-2008, 10:25 PM
Just got the new Windswept and have already devoured most of it. Sad to have to wait another 3 months. Another beautiful cover photo by Jim S. Some good STP photos as well showing a few forum members (including one small blue one that seems to have just polished off a growler :eek:).

There's an article at the beginning about the three times kept in the OBS including UTC, EST and EDT. I understand the reason for UTC, but if I am reading the rest correctly it sounds like the summit is always on EST and doesn't go to EDT (or "valley time" as it is referred to in the article) with the rest of the east coast. How come?

10-17-2008, 04:59 AM
I actually wrote about this in our comments on Friday, July 20th, 2007, which was referenced in the same Windswept. But, to save you time in looking it up, I wrote:

Time on the summit sometimes feels like a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. I say this because at any given moment, we recognize two to three different times and two different calendars. If you are thinking that the altitude is getting to us, please, let me explain. So let’s start off with time. For those who have toured, visited, or volunteered at Mount Washington Observatory, you know that during the summer we observe three different times. The first is Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) which we call “valley time” since it is the time most of the eastern seaboard recognizes during the summer. The second is in Eastern Standard Time (EST) which is the time we use to know what observations need to be done during our shifts. The last is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which is the time that our observations are coded and transmitted in so they coincide with observations taken at the same time around the world. It is confusing for most but second nature to those of us working and living on the summit.

But what is the need for two calendars? Well, the first is the typical calendar you would find hanging in any office or home across the United States. It starts on January first and concludes on December thirty-first. The second one is our climatoligical calendar year. This calendar runs from July first of this year and will conclude on June thirtieth 2008. So with it being July, that means we just started a new year but this also means we just concluded last years records. Let me put it into an analogy like you would find on an SAT test. This calendar is to our station is what a fiscal calendar is to business, it lets us know how we are doing...

It goes on but that is the bit about time. We do not do EDT time because our observations are done in EST and since we are a weather observatory, that time is the only one that really matters. So rather than to confuse us as to which observation we are to be doing, we just keep it on one time year round. And, there is a lot of discussion as to why daylight savings is still needed in modern society. There was a use in a time when agriculture needed it but there is less of a need now, I know this first hand having grown up in a cow town. There are a few states that do not "celebrate" the hour change as well. But, plus or minus an hour is no big deal, unless you are being paid for it.

10-17-2008, 09:21 AM
Thanks Ryan - this makes a lot of sense. I now realize that I had read your comments before (as well as an earlier thread on this subject in the forum) but my aging brain apparently leaked this out as it does so many other things these days :(

I have to say that I agree with the sentiment about daylight savings time. The current excuse of extending it to save electricity doesn't seem to make sense (at least in our house). We just trade the lights on earlier in the evening for the lights on earlier in the morning. We've also now crossed the magic threshold where we are walking the dog in the dark in the morning and the kids are waiting for the school bus in the dark as well. Can't wait for the clocks to change again...