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Observer Comments

February 2006

02:24 Tue Feb 28th

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Walking in 120 mph...

Another day, another record low. Today we dropped to -29F at the summit, and only managed to climb to -15 by days end. Combine this with winds that averaged 88mph for the day causing severe blowing snow, and you have some unbelievably brutal weather. To put it in perspective, it hasnt been this bad up here since well, last week!

This shift we are joined at the summit by a group of visiting students from the University of Bochum in Germany, and they got a great introduction to both the weather on the mountain as well as the culture of the summit crew. I accompanied a few brave members of the group out onto the deck around the noon hours to see what the winds felt like. Everything was going well until the days peak gust of 120 mph knocked them down like pins at the alley. Moments later though, they were back inside, and I dont think I can remember seeing smiles any bigger! Theyll definitely fit in well!

Over the coming days they will perform experiments on everything from snow density to clothing effectiveness, but today they learned why were known as the Home of the Worlds Worst Weather!

Jim Salge – Observer

01:41 Mon Feb 27th

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212 to 32...

The Observatory has tied the record low of -26 for Sunday the 26th! From this shifts perspectiveits just plain cold outside, really no other way to describe it.

There is only one way to celebrate record low temperatures in February on Mount WashingtonHot Water Fireworks!!! Basically, take a pot of boiling water outside, throw it in the airand well, you can see the results for yourself! Tim described the process fairly in depth here last week!

I had never seen this before, let me tell youits AMAZING!!!

Two quick program notes:Tonight at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway, Dr. Peter Crane, will offer a program on "Mount Washington, its weather, and the Observatory", which will give an overview of the mountain's weather and the history and work of the Observatory. The program is free and open to the public at 7 tonight at the Weather Discovery Center, on Main Street in North Conway village.

Andthe Weather Discovery Center is open daily this week from 10 to 5, celebrating Winter Carnival week with FREE ADMISSION thanks to the support of our friends at Attitash.

Jim Salge – Observer

05:23 Sun Feb 26th

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Wintry Window...

Yesterdays clipper came and went just about as anticipated on the summits, with light SE winds allowing the snow to actually fall and accumulate on the summits, then strong NW winds scouring it away again last night. Temps have fallen on cue as well; currently about -15 and falling, and we could set a record low tonight with a mark of -26F.

It seems like only clipper storms give (relatively) light winds from this direction up here, and therefore everything about it seems very odd. Winds in the face when theyre usually at your back and vice versa can be rather disorienting in the fog. SE winds also send the blowing snow back over the top of the building, allowing it to eddy in front of the office windows for a while. The swirling snow is rather mesmerizing, and I lost a more than a few minutes yesterday afternoon just watching the snow play outside.

Another good point to note is that SE winds dont instantly cake rime ice on the windows, and intricate frost patterns can form in the pane. The shot that I posted today was through the office window around 10PM last night. With the snow light on below the window, I first noticed the feathery frost shimmering from across the room. A few minutes with my new Macro lens, and this 5 second exposure resulted. Just one shimmer in the frame

Frost on windows always reminds me of good cold winter daysand Im glad winters back!!!

Jim Salge – Observer

04:42 Sat Feb 25th

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Whiteout...

Snow lovers rejoice! The summit picked up about half a foot of snow yesterday, in a heavy afternoon burst that caused severe whiteout conditions. But, with nothing to bond too, the snow did not last on the summit long, and the inevitable journey to Tucks will likely cause avalanche concerns today.

Today, the focus is on a clipper system that will cause textbook clipper weather on the summit. And exactly does that mean???

Clippers are small, compact storms that originate in the lee of the Canadian Rockies and travel across the northern tier of the US. Because they are so small, they rarely engage the southern jet stream, which means there is no warm air to mix the snow with rain. Though these are almost always snow events, the storms are typically moisture starved, and usually do not yield a heavy snowfall across interior New England. The most characteristic trait of these storms though is the cold high pressure that builds in behind them. These storms usher in the crisp winter feel that has been so lacking this year.

For the summit, clippers mean a pretty routine forecast. Clear skies followed by thickening clouds and relatively light winds ahead of the storm, and then a sharp drop in temperatures (possibly to -30F again) with strong winds after the storm passes. In between, we can expect a few inches of snow!

To learn more about the weather in the White Mountains, you can stop by the Weather Discovery Center in downtown North Conway all this week. Admission is free, thanks to a sponsorship by our friends at Attitash.

Jim Salge – Observer

04:08 Fri Feb 24th

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THE CURE...

Around 5:30 last evening I had suddenly came to the realization that it was still very light out. This simple observation only confirmed a feeling that Ive been trying VERY hard to suppress during the past few warm, snowless weeks in the valley. Spring is comingand the extra two hours of daylight that weve gained since late December are just another sign.

Considering the weak winter that weve had so far, Im not surprised that I have caught a VERY premature case of spring fever, the kind that usually waits until the crocuses pop. After all, it was just a week ago that parts of NH reached 60 degrees!

Id say I need a cure fast, and fortunately Mother Nature has been trying. The last few days have been the longest stretch of below normal temperatures that weve endured this year, and weve picked up a light snowfall every day this week. And now shes going to kick it up a notch! After snow showers today, a clipper tomorrow will bring a bit of heavier snow before more ARCTIC air comes down the pipe Sunday into next week. Air that could be colder than this past weekends up here!

Snow alone would cure my affliction, so the cold is just a bonus. After all, though the days will rapidly grow longer in the coming weeks, the heart of winter will remain on Mount Washington!

A few quick program notes: Thanks to a sponsorship by our friends at Attitash, the Mount Washington Center in North Conway continues vacation week hours through next weekend, open daily with live, interactive broadcasts from the summit at 11:15AM and 2:15PM.

Also, a special program geared towards young (or young at heart) weather enthusiasts called Weather the Weather will be held at 4PM at the Mount Washington Center, hosted by the Observatorys Michelle Cruz!

Jim Salge – Observer

15:07 Wed Feb 22nd

Shift change day is always naturally hectic, perhaps even more so this week though. Therefore this comment will be brief...

Ken Rancourt leaves the summit today, after he covered a week of vacation for myself, and he seemingly rewired everything in the tower, and across the summit. Fiber-optic cables now connect all the summit buildings, and this will lead to great projects and sensing around the White Mountains in the future. In all, a very productive week.

While the events of the day were very busy in the transition and transfer of new information, the weather has been quite benign. Temps have warmed up and the winds have died, atleast in comparison to last week. A thin cloud veils the summit, but winds are a mere 20mph right now, very light by summit standards. The forecast for now looks tranquil into the weekend...perhaps we'll able to calm down as much as the weather has!

Jim Salge – Observer

22:31 Mon Feb 20th

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Working Overtime

Conditions have become more "seasonable" atop the summit. The fog continues to hold on, howver, and occasionally there are a few snow showers. Temperatures have rebounded to near zero degrees, but still just below zero. This has been the longest stretch of below zero weather that has graced the summit in the past two years. It is amazing just how warm -5 to -10 can feel after being outside in a -30 degree chill!

The snow showers have been few and far between. In fact, the summit is running a 30 inch snowfall deficit for the month of February. Unfortunately, it looks like a dry weather pattern is in store for the remainder of the week. There is a chance for some light snow over the weekend and into early next week, but not the big storm we need to put a dent in the below average monthly snow total.

The picture included is of our wind charts during the last winds event. The recorder got quite a workout on those three days. The interesting thing to note as that we recorded a wind gust of over 110mph for all three days. That is something I have never seen in the three years I have been here!

Thanks to the generous support from our friends at Attitash, the Mount Washington Observatory's Weather Discovery Center, located on Main Street in North Conway Village will be open to the public from 10am to 5pm every day for the next two weeks. Admission is free, so be sure to visit us during this vacation period. At 11:15am and 2:15pm every day there will also be a showing of "Live From the Rockpile," a live video-feed to the summit where you can see first-hand what it is like for the observers to live and work atop New England's highest peak during the harsh winter months.

Tim Markle – Chief Observer

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