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Observer Comments

January 2007

09:33 Tue Jan 30th

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Wave Clouds

Winds this morning are higher than were expected; we’ve had a gust to 95 mph. This is significant in that it is about 20 below zero, and the wind does its best to instantly equalize the body’s heat with the surrounding atmosphere. Essentially this is what wind-chill values represent, the speed with which an exothermic body will lose heat. In trying to understand why our winds are so high we look to the temperature soundings for this morning (attained from balloon launches). It so happens that the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere is actually very stable with an inversion layer from just below the summit to well above our elevation, the result of which is the impressive acceleration of otherwise moderate winds over the mountain (essentially the air is forced into an narrow accelerate slip just over the summit do to the unwillingness of the air above it to be displaced.) This scenario also allows for the vertical propagation of standing waves off of the entire range. At heights up to 22,000ft cirrocumulus and altocumulus lenticulars illustrate the oscillation of these waves. At lower elevations thin cap clouds mark the laminar flow of stable air over the summits and spindrift is visible in the turbulent eddies just down wind of some terrain features such as the rouche moutonneé of Mount Monroe.

Neil Lareau – Observer

08:52 Mon Jan 29th

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Atlantic Ocean Sunrise

Monday morning. The start of the week for most, nearing the end for us. Last night felt like wrap up for several of our projects. John Lind and Greg Carges finished the cabinetry in the conference room. Many people had input on what would be useful and how best to use the space. The final result is everything we wanted and more beautiful than we imagined. Cheers to that.

Don Kearney, our cooking volunteer, has been working a number of things in his own right. Two days ago he cooked a pork roast dinner for all of us plus a full EMS-led hiking trip. Yesterday was a pancake breakfast for the group (even the leftovers were good at 5pm - i.e. my breakfast). An electrician with many years in the trade, he has also applied his talents to the welfare of the summit facility this week. For State Park, he went on a circuit treasure hunt tracing wires through walls and ceilings to prep the installation of hand dryers in the public bathrooms out in the entrance to the building. Then he laid some wire to give us a few new outlets in the kitchen. The last time he was up, he traced a tangle of age-old wires forming a web a spider colony would be proud of. I am not actually sure if spiders live in, gather around, or travel in colonies. But Don's plots helped a great deal with my work this week.

I deciphered the programming of a datalogger that has been in continuous use since before I knew lions were proud. This logger had tendrils of connections ranging from key components of our wind speed displays to instruments not in existence any longer. Determining this required eyeballing several junction panels, poking multi-pair cables, and thankfully using the diagrams Don and Neil had worked up previously.

Two paragraphs without any pictures? Trust me, even with amber side-light the terminal strips behind the weather wall are only so pretty. Winter interns Mike and Alan have been getting more accustomed to life on the peak. Both are getting the hang of taking observations and this week has provided a few challenges of cloud decipherment. Here's a shot of Neil telling Mike he can't come back inside until the ob is finished. Mike's a quick study though. I caught him measuring dew points like a pro and watching the sunset both at the same time.

Towards the end of the day we'll have our Obscast video journal posted online. If a still image is worth checking this website for, think about how glorious video is. Recently we created a member's section of the site including specials such as additional webcam photos and sunrise/sunset time lapse video. If you haven't signed up yet, you will need your email and member ID. If you have misplaced your ID, not to worry the membership folks down in the valley are courteous, kind, and helpful. So we'll post the video later today and it's gonna be good. There is amber side-light and fast action!

Jon Cotton – Observer

08:49 Sat Jan 27th

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Jackson, NH

Wintertime is for indoor work - like knitting by the hearth. We haven't needed much convincing of this considering the brutal cold and wind chills in the out of doors. Unfortunately we don't have a hearth and LL Bean knits our gear. Other projects vied for attention instead. And we are not slouching.

Volunteers John Lind and Greg Carges are fabricating the most beautiful room on the summit. John is known for his work here both for the Observatory and our landlords the State Park. Greg is a professional cabinet maker residing in Chicago. This project to retrofit the conference room, in the works for the last six months, is filling a persistent need we have for storage space. Awkward items like anemometers-on-a-stick with twenty-foot cable tails, PVC conduit, and cases of tower mounting bolts don't fit in stock shelves. Our walls have a particular curving tendency (it comes with the building). We don't have many extra rooms to remodel and the conference room is where we host meetings and educational forums so whatever goes here must look presentable.

John knows how to spiff up a place and he put out the call for a pro. In his words, "We aren't messing around. Make it difficult – we'll do whatever you need. You want inlaid sapphire? No problem. These cabinets will outlast you and we're doing it as good as it gets." Greg answered this challenge with a sparkle in his eyes.

How good does it get you ask. The work in progress thus far - finished bookshelftoolscabinet. It actually does get better still because they donated everything involved. All the materials cost, the tools required, the week off from regular life and work and the professional talent are all donated. Amazing. Thank you John and Greg.

Last minute update: Greg also cooked me breakfast after I was out for 45 minutes on the morning's photoshoot.

Jon Cotton – Observer

13:47 Fri Jan 26th

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Fresh Tracks

Yesterday Morning:

My first observation revealed green twilight on the eastern horizon, abundant stars overhead, a singular shooting star, a temperature around zero and winds around 10 mph. It was beautiful.

This morning:

My first observation revealed thin freezing fog, gaps of dusky sky overhead, a temperature of -30F, winds at 81 mph, and a windchill factor of -81F. It is beautiful.

Yesterday Mid Morning:

Bright sun, a temperature of -10 and light winds. The snowfields had received a fresh layer of wind deposited snow. Peter Kelly (UNH AIRMAP), Mike Finnegan, and myself couldn’t turn down the opportunity to mark up the fresh snow. Peter kept on going, skiing all the way to Pinkham (with a bit of walking to get down Lions head and avoid avalanche danger in Tuckerman Ravine.)

Today, Mid Morning:

Now, well after sunrise, the temperature still read -32 degrees and winds are still strong. It is cold; you can feel it creeping into your gloves, robbing narrow fingers of heat. It is hard to breathe through the layers of face masks, balaclavas, hoods, googles, etc.

Also of note: Today's official low temperature is -33 degrees which sets a new record low for this date on Mount Washington. The previous record low was -30F set in 1972.

Neil Lareau – Observer

09:50 Wed Jan 24th

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Broken Bolt from high winds...

To say the least, it has been an interesting week up here at the top of the rock pile. From extreme cold temperatures, to extreme winds, to comparatively warm days with little wind, this week has kept all of us up here busy. The past few days have been absolutely gorgeous! It has been hard to stay inside and get work done when the conditions outside have been so inviting. I am quite amazed that any of us got work done.

One of the most interesting things that happened was while walking around the summit after the high winds, Brent and I stumbled upon something that looked like a ball frozen into the snow. Being the curious people that we are, we gave it a little kick hoping for the ball to go flying and we could have some fun. Instead, we discovered that the ball actually was not a ball at all; it was actually a dome that looked as though it fell from the sky. Brent and I brought the dome inside to Jim, and found out that it was the top to the GPS unit. A couple days and emails later, we found out how the GPS became decapitated; the 5/8 stainless bolt that holds the top on was sheared completely through. It is quite amazing to think that the wind was able to break through a rather large steel bolt.

There are so many interesting things that are occurring here every day that I could never have imagined. I am quite sad that today is my last day up here. It is going to be hard to go back to classes and studying after spending two weeks up here seeing all of these new things.

Jackie Johnson – Summit Intern

10:41 Tue Jan 23rd

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Sun Pillar This Morning...

This morning’s excitement on the mountain did NOT come from typical Mount Washington January weather. Instead, as Jim, Jackie, and I headed out this morning around 8:30, we were greeted with a summer-like feeling of warmth as the sun glared down from the southeastern sky. It was amazing how warm 5 degrees can feel without the common 60-70 mph, or in the case of just a few days ago, 100mph winds! In fact, the past day and a half have been just as calm, with temps around 0 and winds 5-15 mph. I’ll take it!

The calm on the top of the rock pile has given us a chance to venture out around the summit, as we did this morning. Jim pointed out a somewhat rare phenomenon here on the summit, gleaming in the morning sky just below the sun. It was a spectacular sun pillar displayed with double heads mountain peaks in the background as shown in the picture. These lower pillars are usually seen from a mountainside looking down into mist or an icy cloud. But in our case there were no clouds, just blue skies. So if you are wondering where were these ice crystals, of which the sun so brilliantly reflected off of, coming from? Well these were diamond dust crystals, which typically occur on very cold days. They provided an excellent reflection point for the suns rays against the darker colored trees amongst the mountains in the background.

On a final note, it looks as though our weather is not going to continue to be so pleasant on the summit for much longer. As staff shift change comes tomorrow, as does some colder weather and more typical winds. Now if we could only get some snow…..

On a quick addtional note, we hope that members are finding their way to the new premium content on the site. Further information can be found here, and questions are being attended to in the forums.

Brent Antkowiak – Summit Intern

10:40 Mon Jan 22nd

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Brent stands upright without winds...

Update: The Premium Content Is ACTIVE!!!
Follow the links below to activate!

My usual morning routine in the winter is roll out of bed, get myself largely dressed and head upstairs to check in and get a handle on the conditions, and the overnight routine. As an intermediate step to going upstairs, I usually struggle with the tower door, suctioned shut by high winds most of the winter. With a routine powerful pull on the door, I nearly knocked myself out, as the door swung effortlessly towards me. After winds peaking out over 100mph during four of the last five days, I had forgotten that in light winds, the door can, at times, open with little effort. I laughed my way into the weather room to see winds of 12mph, and exceptional (but fleeting) views...

Conditions will remain pleasant on the peak through the forecast period, as high pressure deflects any major storms around the White Mountain Region. Though fog will be intermittent on the peaks over the coming days, ample views should abound from our webcams.

Which brings us to today’s excitement (and organization wide frenzy). The new featured content is set to launch today, as a thank you to our members for their support. Sometime this afternoon, by following these instructions, members will be able to see more webcam views, webcam videos, and the new weekly video blog from the summit. Any questions can be posed in our forums, where other members and our tech gurus may be able to help…

Enjoy and thanks to all the members of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory for your support.

Jim Salge – Observer

08:29 Sun Jan 21st

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Dawn through the window...

Looks can certainly be deceiving. Plug your ears and rely solely on your eyes to tell you about the morning on Mount Washington, and you would think it were the most beautiful, most calm and most serene dawn you’ve ever seen. Open your ears though, and suddenly the world is a ravaging place, set to rip the lens from your face as you tried to work a camera. The views this morning were all taken from behind glass.

Winds remain the story on the mountain this morning. After peaking out last night at 121mph, they have been slow to abate. Temperatures are still combining with winds for dangerous windchills this morning, but conditions should moderate through the day. Tonight’s sunset should be less inviting to experience from outside!

An interesting note about the winds…these were about the least gusty high winds that I can remember seeing up here, both in person and in studying historical charts. Sustained winds at 100+ mph usually lead to gusts of 130 or higher, but at times, gusts were only reaching 105 from the century mark. Fairly remarkable! The trend has not held through this morning, which makes this chart the more interesting. On the bottom left chart, the light blue line is average speed, and the dark blue is gustiness. Note how close together the two lines are until after the peak winds had passed. If only…

Jim Salge – Observer

08:59 Sat Jan 20th

The weather that we are expecting today on the summit is what we live for at the Mount Washington Observatory. Very high winds, temperatures that fall right through the day, and blinding blowing snow…the weather that backs up this mountains claim to the World’s Worst Weather. Already this morning, winds are sustaining in the 80+ mph range, and they will only increase this afternoon and peak during the overnight hours. Temperatures settling well below zero will have windchills reaching -60 to -80F. To follow the conditions today, I recommend this link.

While the staff is excited to observe, report and study this weather event today, we are keenly aware that this is precisely the weather that also leads to this mountains formidable reputation. We take extreme precautions before stepping foot out the door, and understand both safe areas and personal limits. And we don’t push them. Unfortunately, this mountain is known as a place to test the limits of individuals, and when they push them too far, the results are often devastating. Today, simply put, is NOT the day for any type of above treeline travel.

Instead it might be a good day to curl up with a good book that reminds us why it’s not a good day to trek on the Presidential Range. I highly recommend ‘Not Without Peril,’ but if you don’t have a copy on hand, this page is sobering. What these reports show is how fast the simplest problem can prove extremely dangerous on a day like today. If you roll your ankle at treeline at 3PM, you could end up spending the night out…and even with good gear and good preparation, you will be extremely hypothermic at best by the time rescuers, risking their lives themselves, can make it to you. Just things to keep in mind as you plan any winter hike.

Please respect the mountain today!

To end on a lighter note, as a thank you to the members of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory, we are set to launch a new members only section early this week. The staff will be getting footage of today’s event for the ObsCast video blog, and will continue to do so as a subsequent to the normal website content. For more information on this launch, click here!

Jim Salge – Observer

21:08 Thu Jan 18th

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48 hour temperature comparison

With the recent shot of cold air delivering frigid temperatures and hurricane force winds, the summit crew has been very busy with keeping tabs on what’s going on outside, both on the summit and across the region. An interesting scenario that I was asked to look at has been how the temperature has varied between the summit and nearby Berlin, a valley location, the past few days. Please reference the chart at right while reading the comment. It is a graph of the temperatures during the past 48 hours, through earlier this morning.

After the cold front ripped through the area Tuesday afternoon, it was intriguing to see the temperatures drop and drop Tuesday night until bottoming out at around -35 C at the summit. At the time, the high pressure ridge dominating the air mass near the peak early Wednesday morning as our temps bottomed out. Berlin’s daily low followed shortly and they hit their minimum a few hours after us, in a typical diurnal fashion (warming during the day, cooling during the night), at about -25 C.

As Wednesday progressed, both locations increased temperatures proportionally during the daylight hours. What happened next is a common occurrence in the White Mountain region. The summit kept its warming trend throughout the night while Berlin began to drop off in the early evening under clear skies. By 11pm Wednesday night, Berlin was over 10 C COLDER than the summit! From the chart, you can see that the summit had warmed to the low-mid teens below 0 C by morning, while Berlin stayed in the lower 20’s below 0 C throughout the entire night.

Now as for why this happened, there are a few factors that are contributing to the situation. For temperatures to bottom out in the valley in a cold air mass, all factors that support radiational cooling must be in place. These factors, which combine for rapid overnight cooling of the lower atmosphere are a recent snow cover, clear skies, and light winds. The first day after a cold front is typically too windy in Berlin for real radiation to take place, and Berlin sees its coldest temperatures on day two of an air mass after the high has moved overhead, and the winds die off. However, the higher elevation of the summit does not typically follow such a diurnal cycle, and is influenced much more by the air masses themselves. Cold air initially rushes in, but as the high crests giving the valley their coldest night, the summits are warming both by a cut off of the cold air moving in, as well as compression warming under the high pressure area. Thus you can see that while the valleys were coldest, the summits had already warmed 30 degrees F.

That’s an explanation of what has happened on the summits…for a brief look ahead…

On the summit, we are looking forward to the potential for strong winds Saturday night. VERY strong winds to be more emphatic. Current projections are estimating over 100 mph sustained with gusts to who knows! 120? 130? 160? There is the potential for the summit to experience winds it has not seen in several years. Of course, with the sad, sad winter we have had thus far, the forecast models are probably just teasing us again, as they have become so good at over the past few months!

Brent Antkowiak – Summit Intern

19:30 Wed Jan 17th

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New video below!

Conditions on the mountain the past 36 hours have been well, rather brutal. After a 30F degree drop in six hours following Monday’s storm, temperatures continued to slide through the day on Tuesday and into Tuesday night. Winds steadily increased as well, by 7AM, the observers had recorded a temperature -32F and a peak wind speed of 111mph.

Conditions were deemed too dangerous during for the typical 8AM shift change, and Brent and I found ourselves holed up in the AMC Pinkham Notch Camp enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate until 10AM. By that time, the winds had calmed back down to hurricane force, and the temperatures no longer threatened the hydraulics of the Snowcat. The trip up the road was quite easy, as our operator Gus, in anticipation of the weather had cleared much of the route the day prior. We arrived in just over an hour, threw our stuff out, the down going crew jumped in, and away they went. No time to dawdle on days like today.

These are the coldest temperatures that we’ve seen on Mount Washington in a couple of winters, I’ll look up the last date of incidence when things calm down tomorrow. As an interesting aside, Tim Markle, former MWO staff meteorologist and current observer at the South Pole wrote to say that we were colder than him this morning…something especially rare, even with it being their “summer!”

And with that comes our new video for the week. The observatory has been working for some time in creating a special members only section to our website, as a thanks to those who support the work and research of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory. Besides multiple webcam views, webcam movies and eventually even more weather content, we will be launching a weekly video blog. We hope through these we will be able to provide both observatory insight and stories through this new media. Nothing will be removed from the current site, but plenty more will be available to members.

However, with the launch over a week away, here’s some fantastic video that the crew put together today!

We are working on the glitch that caused the current conditions to 'freeze' on the homepage during the cold snap. The data all exists in our database, but it was having difficulty being exported over the last 36 hours

Jim Salge – Observer

08:15 Wed Jan 17th

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Summit Soccer

Its coming to then end of my stay here on the mountain, and it seems to have decided to give me the proverbial cold shoulder with temps below -30 and winds at 80+ miles per hour, causing wind chill values in the -70s or below. The weather up here has been as expected; cold, windy, and unpredictable. The snowfall from the other day as example; it has been a difficult winter to love snow and live in New England. Never before have I seen sleet pellets come down at 15 degrees and freezing rain at 16 degrees. To reference summit volunteers Yvonne and Marco Endara’s comment from a few weeks back, just wait a minute, because you never know what might happen.

Tonight, after a few waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream, cooked up by the fabulous chef Steve Moore, the summit crew headed out to out makeshift arena for another game of soccer. With temperatures plummeting, it is difficult to get outside and enjoy the weather, so being inside playing soccer is good enough for us.

Looking back on these two weeks on top of the rockpile, I have many people to thank for my experiences up here. To all the summit staff and volunteers I interacted with as an intern, I thank you for everything you taught me and the chance to experience the different world that is the mountain.I leave you with the one thing I learned during my summit experience; sleeping can be an adventure on the summit, especially if Nin sleeps above you.

Norm Shippee – Summit Intern

08:25 Tue Jan 16th

Yesterday may have been one of the most emotionally difficult days of my life. You see, I love winter, I love skiing, yes, but even more than that I love the excitement of a snow storm; the anticipation of a world soon transformed to cushioned white. I love the dampened sound in a forest when it snows, the slow hiss of steady snow piling up, the smell in the air the hour before the snow starts, the leaden grey of the nimbostratus. All of it, I love it, I live for it.

Yesterday, for the first time this winter, I truly believed that we were going to get a good snow storm, not an incredible snow storm, but a good one. We didn’t. It’s not just that I wanted snow, but also that it is my job to forecast the weather, to make definite, or at least probabilistic statements, about what will happen on a given day. I was pretty sure we were going to get some good snow (4-8” was a safe bet, 6-10” was quite possible), and it wasn’t just me, every resource and all of the guidance tools suggested as much. Models indicated a column of air that would support snow through most of the storm right up until yesterday morning. Then they started to hint at a layer of warm air at about 6000 ft arriving late afternoon, but not before a lot of snow reached the ground. There is an important distinction to be made; reality is what it is, and models that mimic that reality are inherently wrong. The question is the degree to which they will be wrong. That warm air was here by midmorning. Snow changed to ice pellets, then to freezing rain for a period. Ultimately, the total amount of liquid that fell out of the sky was not all that far off of what we expected; it just fell in the wrong geometry and physical state.

A few places faired well with yesterday’s storm. Locations in northern Vermont and New Hampshire saw around 8” of snow. If you’re looking for some skiing Dixville Notch might be a good place. Still, when the summit records just 1.9” of dense snow, ice pellets, and freezing rain it makes me sad; it makes me sad that it is mid January and the only pure snow storm we’ve had was in October.

Now, as if to save face, winter will show off some cold. Temperatures will drop to around -25F tonight. Winds will be strong from the NW at 55-75 mph with higher gusts. Wind chill values will be 55 to 75 below zero. I would suggest that later today, tonight, and tomorrow would be best spent reminiscing about winters past and dreaming of unfathomable depths of snow from the warmth and safety of your home; above treeline will not be a safe place to be.

Neil Lareau – Observer

08:13 Sun Jan 14th

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Undercast Sunset

Well, we’re back in the clouds this morning, much like we were yesterday morning. However, we were graced with clear skies for the afternoon and evening yesterday, adding some color to the otherwise grey and white landscape. Being such a beautiful night and happily satiated from yet another incredible meal cooked by Steve Moore, this week’s volunteer, Neil and I decided it was best to go for a jaunt over to Clay – there could have been no better idea. Orion stood crisp and bright, towering over the Obs, clearly taking aim at poor ol’ Taurus. Bright flashes of white light could be seen over towards Lincoln, NH, resembling fireworks, but lacking the color – kind of interesting. The lights of Stowe on Mount Mansfield in VT could be seen far in the distance. The most interesting thing we saw was a rime formation on a pair of rocks. The feathers were of the most delicate nature. Due to the slow process of sublimation, the feathers had taken on a form resembling one of the most beloved flowers, the Indian Pipe. The white of the rime stood in stark contrast to the harrowing darkness deep in the depths of the Great Gulf. In time, we made our way to the summit of Clay, reminisced about trailless travel, and trekked on back to our home on the Rock Pile, calm and satisfied.

Mike Finnegan – Summit Intern

17:09 Thu Jan 11th

It is with great regret that the Observatory notes the passing of one of its Life Trustees, and one of its greatest supporters. Brad Washburn died last night in Lexington, Massachusetts. He was 96 years of age.

A brief note such as this cannot begin to do justice to the formidable career of Brad. He was an explorer, an educator, a photographer, a cartographer, and more.

As an explorer, he led expeditions to unmapped areas of Alaska; he pioneered the use of aerial photography and ski-equipped aircraft to climb untrodden peaks, and discovered the West Buttress route on Denali, which has become that mountain’s standard route of ascent. He was a relative youth when he forged a solid relationship, based on remarkable accomplishments, with the National Geographic Society. In later years, he used his knowledge and enthusiasm to encourage younger mountaineers to seek out new routes on challenging mountains.

As a photographer, he captured on film dramatic images of the White Mountains, of the Alps, of peaks in Alaska, and other locales. His work combined scientific purpose and artistic sensitivity; his photographs have been likened to those of Ansel Adams.

As a cartographer, he mapped such places as Denali, Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon – and Mount Washington.

As an educator, his first efforts were modest ones – a guidebook to the Presidential Range, and a few books on the exploration of Mount Washington, the Alps, and Mount Fairweather for youth (written when he himself was quite young). His lectures on his expeditions, and his magazine articles, engaged many listeners and readers. On a vastly greater scale, he transformed the stuffy little New England Museum of Natural History into today’s Boston Museum of Science, a world-class science center. The Museum is a mighty monument to his drive and ability – including his ability to persuade others to support the worthy cause of learning more about our world, and worlds beyond our own.

And more….

Brad was generous with his knowledge, and generous in other ways, too. He presented the Observatory with original negatives from his 1937 photographic flight over the White Mountains, specifically to help this organization produce revenue to sustain its activities through sales of those images. That act of generosity will help the Observatory for decades to come.

Our condolences go to Brad’s family, including his widow Barbara (who, with Brad’s guidance and her own grit and gumption, became the first woman to climb Denali). Rest assured that, for generations hence, many will benefit from Brad’s great work in many fields. To view Brad's photography of the White Mountains please click here

Peter Crane – Director of Programs

08:26 Tue Jan 9th

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Snow drifts at the front door...

Finally, some normal wintry weather has arrived on Mount Washington. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, freezing fog, high winds and COLD temperatures. All these conditions and more arrived yesterday, and look like they will hold for through the week now. The staff is on their way out the front door with shovels for the first time in a while, to remove the rather large drifts that have built up. All this from the storm that dropped a bit over 6 inches on the summit.

And the summit needed it, after last week’s warm up we were looking a little bare…see pictures:

Pic 1
Pic 2

These pictures were taken the new Bretton Woods Cam just two days ago.

A view from this new camera will launch on our website at the end of our new membership drive, which at the current pace may be soon. All it takes for this camera to be brought online is your new Observatory membership. And were 15% of our way to our goal in just one week! Your support goes towards operation costs at the summit, research on our climate record, outreach education, and sustaining the content on this website.

Lastly, and in other (now old) news, the CBS Evening News was up on the summit yesterday to film a storm on the warm weather all across and above New England. It will air tonight, we hope you will tune in!

*UPDATE: Here is a link to the CBS story that aired last night!

Jim Salge – Observer

10:08 Mon Jan 8th

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Smiling through 70mph sleet...

As we get further into January, hope for a return, or should I say beginning, of winter slowly dissipates. On the contrary, the past few days have built some excitement on the mountain as forecast models have shown a decent low pressure system moving into the northeast and hope for at least some snowfall was renewed. Well, as is typical for this winter, plain old snow is not the precipitation of choice this morning. After taking Jim’s “recommendation” to walk out on the observation deck to get an idea of the present weather, I found that 70 mph winds and sleet is not a good combination for bare skin on the face. Thanks Jim!

Even though the winter is not unfolding as most would hope, the weather on the mountain has been very active, with winds gusting to over 80mph each day thus far in January. This has given myself, along with many others that have visited the mountain this week, an awesome display of the force of nature which everyone interested in weather should experience.

Brent Antkowiak – Summit Intern

08:22 Sun Jan 7th

Yesterday, with the lack of snow up here, true winter depression had set in. Being on the summit of Mount Washington and not seeing any snow in January is very disheartening. Then waking up to the temperature in the forties yesterday was just the icing on the cake. Last night, with winds up in the eighties Jim took Brent and I outside to test our sea (actually- wind) legs. Luckily for us, the tower blocked the brunt of the wind and all the ice had melted off the deck, so we did considerably well.

It was nice to wake up this morning and not be able to see out of the windows because of all the rime ice build up. It is beginning to feel a little like winter again. Hopefully, today will usher in a new trend of weather as a high pressure system moves into the area (what harm can a little bit of positive thinking do), and we can get rid of all the slush puddles that have been all over the summit the past couple of days.

Observer Note: Yesterday the summit broke the daily record high, with a temperature of 43 degrees. This broke the old record of 37, set in 1946. This was only 4 degrees below the all time high for January of 47, set on January 19th, 1995.

Jackie Johnson – Summit Intern

06:17 Sat Jan 6th

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The last time I was up on the summit was for “Seek the Peak” weekend on July 22nd, 2006. This was about 6 months ago in the heart of summer and the temperature was only 50 F. when I left the summit at 1pm. Today in the heart of winter I went out for my morning stroll around the summit it was a balmy 39 F.! Where did winter go? I come here to experience Mother Nature’s extremes, but it still eludes me. I was however fortunate enough to experience my first walk in hurricane force winds during my stroll, as the winds topped out around 95mph in gusts!

I am up here as part of the Observatory’s EduTrip program. This trip combined 3 of my passions. The mountains, extreme weather, and photography. Our trip leader Ned Therrien and accomplished photographer gave us all some great knowledge we will take with us wherever we may take our cameras around the globe. This is now my 4th EduTrip and it won’t be my last. It is a great escape and an adventure, and the proceeds go to the Mount Washington Observatory, a non-profit organization. I encourage all with any curiosity, which includes all of you since your visiting this website to come up for an Edutrip. (By the way there are 15,000 others who visit this site daily)

Observer note: The daily record high for today, January 6th was broken this morning, so far the high of 42F breaks the old high of 37F set in 1946. Yesterday’s daily high remained in tact by one degree.

Brian Wilk – EduTrip Participant

08:20 Fri Jan 5th

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Sunrise over the southern peaks...

I suppose that if you are trying to instruct photography on Mount Washington in January, weather like yesterday is just about what you dream of. Warm temperatures, manageable winds, and what the heck; throw in thin veil of clouds to make the light really pop. That’s what our Edu-trippers were treated to from the time they arrived to the colorful sunset. Leader Ned Therrien enthusiastically led the group around the summit for the best views and scenes, and I think everyone came away with great shots. The photo above was taken yesterday morning, highlighting the good weather for the day.

Weather has taken a turn for the worse (and absurd) this morning. Low clouds have filled the sky, and rain and fog are threatening. The absurd…temperatures continue to rise, now in the upper 30s, threatening today’s record high of 42. Warm weather should hold tomorrow as well, and with a cooler record of only 37 for the date, midnight should make short work of that tonight!

On a side note this morning, a few spaces still remain on many of our upcoming overnight trips, for more information on opportunities to experience the beauty of Mount Washington yourself this winter... Click HERE!

Jim Salge – Observer

17:49 Wed Jan 3rd

photo - see caption below
A wintry sunset...

After two (snowless) weeks away from the summit, it’s good to arrive back into a wintry landscape. The snowcat was waiting for the truck at around 2000 feet of elevation, and the road was largely covered with snow and ice from bottom to top. Though covered, the road lacked any large drifts or deep snow pack, making for a rather uneventful and routine shift change, which found the crew on the summit within an hour and a half.

Winds at the summit remain at or above its January average, with frequent gusts above hurricane force through the afternoon. The winds seem to lack their usual wintry bite though, as temperatures, which started out the day cold, have risen quickly, and show no indication of slowing their ascent into the weekend. A January thaw is nothing unusual in Northern New England, but I’m sure most in New England will agree that it’s tradition to have SOMETHING THAW!

Rather than dwell upon the impending warm weather, I’ll take a moment to discuss a rather large feature that will soon be added to the webpage. We’ve discussed the internal advancements that the summit has made with the Research Infrastructure Upgrade (RIU) that has been underway at the Observatory for the last three years, and some products like the ARVTP have become publicly available through the upgrade.

We’re pleased to announce one more!

With increased wireless capability from the summit, we have completed the installation of a new Webcam with views of the mountain from the top of Bretton Woods Ski Resort.

And that’s where you come in…

The non-profit Mount Washington Observatory relies on the continued support of its members and supporters to fund the summit station, as well as to keep this website running. It is our hope that, with the new year, we can welcome 250 new members to our organization.

Please consider taking the Bretton Woods Challenge, and bring the Cam online!

Jim Salge – Observer

16:22 Mon Jan 1st

It is the tail end of my stay here as a volunteer and I am twirling with excitement to hear that the winds may once again exceed 100 mph. Two days ago, just before calling it a night, my husband and I ventured outside and stumbled through 83 mph winds. I called it a night when the flying rime started its attack on my head and limbs. Nevertheless, I am ready for more. This week we have enjoyed a stunning sunrise and gorgeous sunsets. We’ve also had days of very poor visibility and days where the view went on forever. The temperature has fluctuated from way below zero to just right for winter hiking. To top it all, my husband and I have also had the pleasure of enjoying the company of a great group of people, visitors as well as friends from previous stays. It is the combination of all these things that keep us coming back. Every time we volunteer we receive more than we give.

Today, the needles on the charts are lulling away and the only thing that can be seen outside the observatory windows is a blanket of white. Here in New England when we speak of the weather we often say, “just-wait-a-minute,” the saying is more than fitting here at the summit. We will do just that!

Yvonne and Marco Endara – Summit Volunteer

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