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Thread: World's Worst Weather

  1. #1
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    Default World's Worst Weather

    There's a fairly heated debated unfolding over on another forum discussing the validity of Mount Washington's famous claim: Home of the World's Worst Weather.

    http://viewsfromthetop.com/index-vftt.html

    While there is quite a bit of passion there seems to be little factual evidence against Mount Washington.

    So, my challenge, if its not Mount Washington then who has the world's worst weather?

    Remember, altitude is not a factor in weather. In fact, higher altitudes only diminish the force of the wind. Also, spare me the cold arguments. My freezer is really cold but its not in the running for worlds' worst weather.
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

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    Default Not scientific, but still valid

    Wow, the thread on VFFT has been running since September!

    You can compare average temperatures from one place to another, but how does one weigh temperature with, say, wind speed? There's no formula that factors the several components of weather to quantify its badness. So the claim "home of the world's worst weather" is a subjective one, but a defensible one nevertheless.

    There's a great deal of nuance to weather severity. For instance, a 100 MPH wind on Mt Washington would be far more powerful than the same wind at Everest base camp, which would itself be more powerful than the same wind on Everest summit. Why? Lower altitude means higher pressure. Higher pressure means more air molecules beating against you. It's like the difference between standing in front of a garden hose and one of those pitching machines... kind of.

    Even if you could plug wind speed, air pressure, and temperature (etc) into a formula to calculate "weather", would you use calculus to factor in rates of change? July 2, 2004 had a peak gust of 124 MPH, which isn't that spectacular for a place that has hurricane force wind 100+ days each year. What made July 2, 2004 so special was that the average speed before and after was about 50 MPG. The gust came out of nowhere. It's hard enough comparing the peaks and the norms, getting from one to the other is a big part of the big weather picture.

    Of course, we aren't counting the weather in places we don't measure it. What about thunderstorm junction on Mt Adams? What about Rainier or Denali or Everest? What about an arbitrary spot in the middle of Antarctica? Saharan Africa?

    The designation "home of the world's worst weather" is anthropocentric for sure, but you sticklers can tack on "that we know of". Try to fit that on a t-shirt, okay? :-)

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    Default Not the answer But...

    Not the answer but maybe a cool tidbit.
    When I went up the auto road this winter on a guided tour the
    women driving told us that a film crew was working on a story
    of Bad weather on Mt. Everest and after 2 weeks of calm days they
    desended Everest without wild weather on film from Everest.
    So the crew finished up the film by going up Mt Washington and filming the Crazy weather on Mt Washington and edited it on the Everest story.
    So long story short, a story of Mt Everest has Mt Washington footage
    of the poor weather on Mt Everest. Funny?
    I just thought it was a cool true story.
    See ya On Tux Tomorrow!
    Rick

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by freehill
    Not the answer but maybe a cool tidbit. When I went up the auto road this winter on a guided tour the women driving told us that a film crew was working on a story of Bad weather on Mt. Everest and after 2 weeks of calm days they desended Everest without wild weather on film from Everest. So the crew finished up the film by going up Mt Washington and filming the Crazy weather on Mt Washington and edited it on the Everest story. So long story short, a story of Mt Everest has Mt Washington footage of the poor weather on Mt Everest. Funny? I just thought it was a cool true story.See ya On Tux Tomorrow!
    Rick
    Yeah, it was the Everest Imax movie. Quite a bit of it was filmed on Mount Washington.

    Is anybody ready to challenge me on who has worse weather than Mount Washington?
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

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    Default

    Of course the "world's worst weather" moniker is relative at best. Judging by some taglines that I see on this forum, some would consider Maui's constant 70's with abundant sunshine to be the "worst" weather ever.
    So, Bill, I won't take up your challange, but I will continue to pine for the summit of Mt Washington. The important thing about this place is that I belong there, and as a member. I support it. As do all of you as well. We have a pretty good community here, and the summit responds by allowing us to live there vicariously with up-to-the-minute news and condition reports. There are very few other places on this planet that combine severe weather with the continuous reporting that I for one enjoy.

    To close this, I would like to add my words of thanks to all that work on the summit (as well as the the supporting staff that keep it going), and to everyone else that supports the effort via memberships or grants or sponsorships.

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    Default I'm new to these parts

    Hello everyone. I normally frequent the VFtT board, but when someone mentioned that a thread was started here about the same subject, I thought I'd chime in. Honestly, I don't really have much to say that would add to the argument right now, because I'm probably talking to many people who think MWN indeed has the worst weather in America, if not the world.

    But I have a question. A poster on VFtT said he couldn't understand how a place could have the worst weather in the world but not the worst climate in the world, because I agreed with him that the averages may not show the most harsh climate. But thats the thing...they are averages, and sometimes stats don't tell the whole picture. Over and over, I stressed that the incredible variability of the weather on MWN is what makes it special. It's like the mountain has mood swings, good weather one minute, and horrible weather the next. I also said that the strong, almost persistent wind is what puts MWN as a front runner for worst weather. The summit gusted to 156 mph last week....that's pretty insane!

    So what do you, the observers think? I don't think its biased to go right to the source.

    grouseking

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    I think the weather vs. climate argument was a little over used. But here is my simple explanation:

    The South Pole has a very harsh climate for humans to live in, but they have very little weather. Light winds, few storms, no precipitation. Kauai has a very favorable climate for humans but every so often they get horrible weather, like hurricane Iniki.

    I'm not sure that helped much, it didn't really help me.

    Wind is obviously a big part of the argument, but you can't forget the riming.

    But what are some other contenders? Maybe the Olympic Mountains in Washington? Extreme precip, riming, wind, fog. They don't have the cold though. I bet it rarely drops below 0F in those mountains.

    The coastal mountains in Alaska? Scottish Highlands?
    Bill
    Next up: Vermont City Marathon: May, 2011
    EasternLight

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill O
    The coastal mountains in Alaska? Scottish Highlands?
    A few more... I suspect that the worst conditions on Katahdin are at least equal to the worst on Washington. I also suspect the Torngats, located on the Quebec/Labrador border, are far more severe than Washington.

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    Mt. Washington may be one of the few places in the world that has a combination of very strong winds, cold temperatures, and abundant snow...but I don't think that that necessarily implies it has the worst weather.

    I guess, in terms of consistency and variability of bad weather, Mt. Washington may be the top that we know of, although it is an oddity in that it's an extreme location whose weather is constantly monitored.

    For me, I guess it's less about 'weather' than the 'outdoors experience.' I know you said to ignore places that are just cold and nothing else...but I still think that, if I had to choose, I'd take a day on MWO during some of the worst conditions than a cold winter day at Vostok, Antarctica. Remember, the coldest wind chill I could find from MWO was about -95F; Vostok reaches that temp several times a year, without wind factored in. It's a rare place whose temps are so cold that their usual lack of wind still makes feel them colder than MWO ever gets. Granted, standing in -95F isn't the same as standing in -40 with a wind that makes it feel -95F, but I don't think the difference is such that you can just write-off places that are extremely cold. Again, even though they don't get much snow, they've got more of it on the ground than MWO ever has had, so it whips up just like MWO's does. Factor in that a lot of Antarctic stations have never been above 0F, and it makes the year-round 'outdoors experience' much less agreeable than on MWO.

    So, Antarctica outdoors is really very similar to MW outdoors, despite different "weather" conditions. Antarctica's temps are unimaginably colder than MWO's...but Antarctica has less winds during a normal day; the wind/temp combination (which I see as more important than just wind or just temps) still gives Antarctica the advantage. MWO gets more snow, but Antarctica's got more on the ground to get whipped up and sink into, so it's kind of like green apples and red apples (not apples & oranges). Again, not all of these are strictly considered "weather," but what's the point of having the world's worst weather if the outside conditions are worse somewhere else?

    It doesn't have to do with weather, but the sun does only rise and set once a year at the South Pole, which I think is enough by itself to make it the worst place in the world to live, even without the -90F temps.

    I'm currently reading Scott's journals about his one-way trip to the South Pole, so I'm a little biased right now towards Antarctica.

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    Thinking outside the box, I'd also include places in Morocco and Libya. They've got temps hotter than MW is cold, and they rarely get rainfall, and I don't think they get winds either (which of course would help it feel cooler). Their weather just never changes (which I say makes their weather even worse), which is pretty bad when it's already the hottest and one of the driest places in the world.

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