Mount Washington Observatory, Wildcat Mountain Unveil New Solar-Powered Webcam
New Internet webcam with views of Tuckerman, Huntington Ravines offered on two websites
MOUNT WASHINGTON, NH – March 12, 2003 – Each spring, thousands of skiers religiously travel to Mount Washington from across the eastern seaboard to climb up and ski down the famed Tuckerman Ravine. This spring, these adventurous skiers and snowboarders will have even more to be excited about.
A new Internet webcam developed by the Mount Washington Observatory is perched atop 4,062-foot Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, looking directly at Mount Washington’s Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. The solar-powered camera will be launched on Friday, offering visitors to Mount Washington Observatory’s website (www.mountwashington.org) and Wildcat Mountain’s website (www.skiwildcat.com) the view that earned Wildcat top honors for scenery in a 2002 Ski Magazine poll.
Developed over the course of twelve months, staff from the Mount Washington Observatory worked on the project in cooperation with Wildcat Mountain, the USDA Forest Service, Zakon Group LLC and Ossipee Mountain Electronics. The camera is housed in a building at Wildcat’s summit, which sits within the White Mountain National Forest.
Many technological challenges were overcome in developing the new webcam. Wildcat Mountain does not have permanent electricity available to the summit buildings, so the camera needed an alternative source of power. With no communication lines atop Wildcat, a wireless link between the webcam equipment and the summit of Mount Washington needed to be established so that the images could be beamed to the Observatory, en route to the web. Temperatures atop Wildcat can dip well below zero on cold winter nights, so the equipment needed to be robust enough to operate in frigid temperatures.
“We weren’t sure just how well the equipment would perform,” said Observatory Web Developer Sean Doucette. “We started the whole process over a year ago, and after testing the gear through this year’s colder-than-average winter, we’re satisfied that the system is stable and works very well.”
The solar equipment powers up the webcam every 15 minutes to take an image of the east face of Mount Washington. The wireless link then enables a computer at the summit to retrieve the image and pass it along to the Observatory and Wildcat Mountain websites.
"What is so great about the webcam is that we will now be able to show folks why those of us who come to Pinkham Notch on a daily basis never tire of this amazing panorama," says Wildcat Mountain Marketing Director Irene Donnell. "It's constantly changing, and the colors can be just unbelievable. But, of course, it's only part of the experience-- you really have to come to the top of Wildcat to get the whole picture."
“There’s a lot of backcountry skiers and snowboarders out there who will be headed to Mount Washington in the next few months to do some spring skiing in Tuckerman Ravine,” said Observatory Marketing Manager Scot Henley. “Our new webcam offers backcountry enthusiasts an opportunity to make a more informed decision about if and when to head into the bowl.”
Zakon Group of North Conway, NH provided technical advice and guidance in the design, integration, and testing of the system. Robert Zakon, CTO of Zakon Group, stated, "The unique opportunity to design the highest wireless network in the Northeast United States, coupled with the technical challenges posed by the environment, made for a fascinating project."
“You can’t just go out and buy this stuff off the shelf,” Doucette joked. “You have to put the pieces together across a broad range of available products, and Zakon Group was right there with accurate information and extremely helpful advice.”
Mount Washington Observatory is a private, non-profit organization supported in part by the generosity of its members. Its mission is to observe and report on weather conditions year-round, conduct scientific research programs and advance public knowledge of the unique meteorology, natural sub-arctic environment and human history of the White Mountain region. For more information, visit www.mountwashington.org.
Wildcat Mountain Ski Area is a year-round family-owned business, and will be celebrating 70 years of skiing the Wildcat Trail in 2003/2004. In the October 2002 issue of SKI Magazine, Wildcat Mountain was rated #1 for scenery in the East, #1 for terrain in NH, and #1 for value in the Mt. Washington Valley.
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