weather on July 24, 2008
I am looking for information on the weather, particularily the wind speed in and around Edmunds Cul on July 24, 2008. That day a group of 11 of us left Lakes Hut with the weather prediction being scattered showers with possibility of thunderstorms, wind speeds possibly to 35 mph, cloud covered and limited visibility. By the time we arrived at Edmunds Cull the weather had obviously changed----we had heavy rain, hail and sleet with wind so strong that you could not stand up. The wind was actually picking up smaller persons and throwing them around. We had to literally crawl to the intersection of the Gulfside trail and the Randolph trail---went down the Randolph trail and eventually made it down to Applacahia Way after a total of 15 hours of hiking and crawling over and under downed trees and fording one really forceful falls area. I realize that the weather does change drastically at times but am interested in whether we received the correct weather report and what the wind speed was during this storm. The valley was experiencing very bad weather with a desvestating tornado. Thanks for any help.
I have checked the web sites suggested for weather but did not find one that covered this at all. The weather changed about 1:30 that afternoon and continued to increase in intensity. We were at the Cul about 2pm and went just a bit beyond---turned around at 2:30 and crawled to the intersection of the paths--headed down the Randolph Trail at approximately 3:15. Thanks again.
Edmund's Col is known for being a very windy spot, perhaps windier than the summit of Mount Washington.
But, since there is no weather station at that location there is no data. And since nobody lives there the National Weather Service and the local media don't really care.
Summer climbing above tree-line in the White Mountains has an almost daily risk of afternoon rain showers, high winds and/or thunderstorms. The Northern Presidentials are especially prone to this as 3 major air-streams converge there. When warm air streams meet cooler air and mix against the side of a mountain range you get the conditions you describe.
The remedy is to complete hikes before the possibility arises in the late afternoons. Despite the weather forecasts a good trip leader should have been aware of these possibilities. I'm not trying to place any blame. The weather is for the most part unpredictable even with today's technology, especially in areas such as Edmund's Col.
Knowledge and experience are the key to safe mountain travel, not weather forecasts.
Here is the 24 hour weather conditions ending after 1PM that day
There was a gap in the archiving so here is the next chart.
If you look at the first image posted above you can see that the MWO's forecast for the day included all the weather you said you experienced. That forecast is valid for conditions on and around Mt Washington, including the area you experienced this weather. I don't know where you received your information for that day but it wasn't from the MWO.
Whenever a possibility of thunderstorms exists you should expect that being inside one will not be very fun, especially while hiking. They're known to create extreme weather events...like the tornadoes in southern NH. A forecast of rain and winds to 35mph in the valley does not apply to a 5,000 foot mountain col.
Edmunds Col is just about the last place I would want to be in a thunderstorm, and I'm both sorry and find it unfortunate that you were there to experience one.
Simply hearing a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast puts up a red flag to hikers that they have the responsibility to interpret the risks as they trek through the day.
I always limit above treeline travel in storms, and if my route traverses a ridge, I ensure that it is done quickly and with a watchful eye to the sky.
The forecasts put out in the mountains always contain this written qualifier...
Summits Outlook: Mountain weather is subject to rapid changes and extreme conditions. Always be prepared to make your own assessment of travel and weather conditions. This outlook is one tool to help you plan a safe trip. Always travel with adequate clothing, shelter, food, and water.
It seems the forecast that was put out that day for the summits was a very fair tool to use...
Mostly in the fog under mostly cloudy skies with rain and chance of thunderstorms, which may produce heavy rain, large hail and gusty winds. Highs: Lower 50s Winds: S 30-45 mph
Looking at the chart Brad posted...sustained winds topped out around 45mph...temps dead on...and of course the aforementioned thunderstorm with gusty winds.
Again, sorry that you had to experience those conditions, it is never fun to be inside a storm as Bill said. Glad no one was hurt. I hope everyone takes time to reflect upon this as all adventurers continously learn through experience and experiences!