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Observer Comments

December 2007

05:49 Sat Dec 29th

photo - see caption below
Looking toward Tuckerman Ravine

I have not been able to sleep well this week for some reason. Being tired during the night shift is definitely the downside of this, but waking early in the day does have its benefits. Instead of lying in bed restless and bored until dinner, I decided to go have a little fun outside while the weather was nice. I awoke to a beautiful undercast with calm winds and plenty of sunshine, so I left to get out for a while. I put on my ski boots and packed all the essentials and even some things I probably would not need just to be on the safe side. I put my skis on right outside the front doors and headed off.

My first stop was in the lower parking lot to catch a glimpse of Mt. Monroe and Lakes of the Clouds Hut. It was one of those times I wish I owned a pair of binoculars so I could survey the landscape a bit closer. I would like to have taken a hike down there, but my planned destination to the East Snowfields was in the opposite direction. The undercast to the east was a bit more broken and the trails of Wildcat could be seen.

The snow at the top had the consistency of a piece of chalk. It was the kind of snow that allows for fast effortless skiing. It became a bit more difficult about halfway down as the snow surface turned to a softer breakable crust which made it harder to turn. The skis wanted to go in different directions than I wanted them to, so it was more or less a battle at times. Near the bottom there was still evidence of last weeks rain as patches of ice glistened under the sunlight. The conditions were not epic by any means, but it was a lot better than tossing and turning in bed. It is always a good idea to check the latest avalanche advisory from the Mount Washington Avalanche Center before venturing into the backcountry.

I think I may have indulged in too many goodies over the holidays because the skin back to the top took longer than usual. When I got about 500 feet away from the summit, I could smell the wonderfully delicious food that our volunteer, Jason Hill, was cooking and this began to propel me along at a quicker rate. I skinned right to the front door and thought about how one day I always wanted to stay at a ‘ski in ski out’ condo. Then it dawned on me that I do stay in a ‘ski in ski out’ condo of sorts every other week. Dreams do come true!

When I came inside and went downstairs I gave everyone high fives including the crew on the other shift.

Well, time to go try that sleeping thing again. Wish me luck!

Kyle Paddleford – Observer

14:33 Thu Dec 27th

This shift week could not have begun any differently than last shift week. Last week we came up in the Snow Cat with two interns, one volunteer, and two observers, in winds gusting to over 100 mph, snow, freezing fog, and blowing snow. It took about two hours to make the trip. The week that followed was windy, cold, and somewhat hectic. This week, the trip took just about an hour, as winds were calm, skies were sunny, and we had a beautiful photo opportunity, with clouds drifting below us. This week, at least for the first half of the week, there are only four people atop Mount Washington: two observers (myself and Kyle), one volunteer (Jason Hill), and one State Park employee (Mike Pelchat).

We’ve also said a heartfelt good bye to the long time resident cat, Nin. Besides the small number of people (and cats) on the summit, the amount of noise has also been drastically cut. We are officially on the grid, and the lack of generator noise is distinct. Between the calm winds and no running generators, it is eerily silent; so silent that one can hear the whisper of snow falling to the ground (and not smacking into the windows).

I think I’ll try to enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts, because come Saturday, there will be an exciting change in the pattern. We’re expecting an awful lot of guests for the weekend, and the summit will once again be brimming with people!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer

08:38 Wed Dec 26th

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The Gang on Christmas Eve

I have attended two great schools, Lincoln Middle School and Barrington High School, and I have learned a lot from both. However, from what I have learned, the thing I utilize the most is not what I thought it would be. My classroom education has helped me more than once on the summit, from Science and Math for weather, to English and Creative Writing for these comments, to Acting for tours and polycoms. Roles in school publications also helped me with leadership and public relations. I had amazing teachers that taught me more then what was on the curriculum by sharing their experiences, showing me not to give up even when it seems like no one notices what you do, and that the good can out weigh so much bad. I had classmates who were there for every experience. They showed me how to be a good friend and person and gave me a chance to care about someone more than myself. In the end though, the thing I cherished most in both schools and over the past few months on the summit was a sense of community. I was apart of the lives of those around me, not just another face they saw everyday. I contributed to the grand scheme, bigger than just you and me. I formed friendships that became a temporary family. I have my own family that I love dearly and who have taught and helped me more than I could ever ask, but winning the respect and admiration of people who do not have to like you is a great feat, which I have enjoyed attempting the past four months. We have shared a lot up here, grown from each other, experienced new things, and in the end just had fun. I will miss this place, the people, the weather, and the feeling I get every time I come up on shift change. While I wish I could stay, I know that I must move on and start my new adventure. I adored every moment I was in those schools and that has taught me to adore every moment I have since then.

The experiences I have gained on Mount Washington have helped to shape me, the same way school did, and I can not wait to take what I have learned with me and bring it to the Wheaton College community.

Aubrie Pace – Summit Intern

00:33 Tue Dec 25th

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and up on the summit
Temperatures were cold as they started to plummet.
Our stockings were hung below the TV with care,
In hopes that a man in red would soon be there.


The day shift was nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of cookie men danced in their heads;
And Nin in his box and me in my gear
Both dreamt that the morning would soon be here.


When up on the deck there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the deck door I flew like a flash,
Unlocked and threw open the door making it clash.


The moon shown through the fog on the snow,
Giving the summit that all too familiar winter glow.
When what to my confused, wide eyes should appear,
But a flying sleigh, and eight giant reindeer.


Landing on the obs deck, so icy and slick
I knew in a flash that it must be Saint Nick.
As they struggled with winds that bring us such fame;
Watching as he shouted to the ‘deer by name.


“Push, Dasher! Pull Dancer! Great, Prancer and Vixen!
Go, Comet! And Cupid! Fly, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the deck! Just careful, please don’t fall.
Please just land safely, is what I ask, that’s all.”


As rime that before hurricane force winds do fly,
Then meet with an observers face and make them kinda cry.
So skillfully to the deck the reindeer flew,
With a sled full of stuff, and the man in red too.


As I headed in, I hear on the roof
The landing and slamming of each giant hoof.
As I typed in the ob, I just turned around,
And down the stairs he went without a sound.


He was decked in Bean gear from head to foot
And his clothes looked surprisingly clean, no soot.
A bundle of stuff he had threw on his back
And he looked like a day hiker opening his sack.


His eyes had a twinkle and his smile was merry!
His cheeks were bright red, his nose like a cherry!
He needed a facemask since frostbite started to show
And his beard was covered in rime and blowing snow.


He applied lip balm getting some on his teeth,
And the rime encircled his cap like a wreath.
He had a large face and fairly round belly,
Shacking like a lava lamp or a bowl of jelly.


He was hypnotic as he looked at books on our shelf
I had to laugh when I saw him, but silent, to myself.
A bit of a wink as he turned his head
Let me know there’s nothing to dread.


He didn’t speak much just went to his work
Filling our stockings with a little smirk.
He then turned and tapped the side of his nose,
Gave a nod, and time seemed to have froze.


He returned to his sled and gave his team a shout
And away they slid, upstream like a trout.
But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to the obs, and to all, good night!”

Ryan Knapp – Staff Meteorologist

14:05 Mon Dec 24th

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Back online! Great success!

Just a quick comment to update the previous one. Our connection to the valley and the outside world is back up and running thanks to our IT observer Steve!

It turns out that we used a bad cable(which of course we thought was good) to replace a bad cable. Steve tried using a known good cable from another one of our point to point radios here on the summit, and voila!

Look for the new ObsCast later today, as well as a new comment tonight. We will also update all the forecast information and the current conditions should update themselves soon. Thanks for your patience!

Brian Clark – Observer

12:13 Mon Dec 24th

We are experiencing communications troubles, please read below:

Sunday was a long day for the crew up here on the summit.

Our Internet connection to the outside world is via a microwave radio link from an antenna on the top of our tower to an antenna on the roof of the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway, and then out to the World Wide Web via a standard cable Internet connection. Yesterday morning, the quality of the radio connection to the valley began to degrade. Steve decided to bring in the antenna, dry off the connections and see if that helped. When we put it back up, we had no connection at all anymore.

After countless trips up and down the tower all day and leaning over the tower railing in winds gusting over 100 mph in our face, all troubleshooting options had been exhausted. The fact that it was not only a Sunday, but also the day before Christmas Eve did not help us in getting a hold of valley staff that could check the antenna on the roof of the Weather Discovery Center. We were finally able to reach Mike at home this morning, who found no problems at the valley end of the link.

This lack of connection to the valley has prevented us from updating the comments, uploading this week's ObsCast (which we think is a good one), updating the webcam images, and updating the forecast and weather data on the website. This problem will continue for the near future, until conditions improve.

So now that I've updated you on that technical stuff, I wan to update you on the weather. I already mentioned winds were gusting over 100 mph by late in the day. This continued through the night with a a peak gust for the day yesterday at 103 miles per hour. Most of the precipitation from the storm yesterday fell as sleet, freezing rain, and plain rain. Temperatures topped out at 35 degrees yesterday. This was the first time we recorded a temperature above 26 degrees since November 27th. After the front went through last night, temperatures plummeted from 32 degrees to 4 degrees in 6 hours.

High pressure will begin to build in tomorrow, but until then wind will continue to gust over 100 mph. This coupled with single digit temperatures will keep us from troubleshooting our Internet connection problems until things do clear out later tomorrow. Rest assured, we will do our best to get updates coming to the website as soon as possible.

Brian Clark (via fax machine) – Summit Observer

19:49 Sat Dec 22nd

For my past few months on the summit, I have been working on an intern research project. I started with the idea of gathering statistics of weather data from the past 75 years. That quickly snowballed as I realized all of this weather data was located in written records on B16 weather forms. I had two options: go through with a calculator and get my numbers or try making a database. To my relief, I found out that The Observatory had made a database with the records. This would make my job much easier and I could quickly get the statistics. I wrote a timeline for my work and thought I would be done in three weeks. It is now five weeks since I have written that timeline and I have had many obstacles since then.

I first made a list of statistics I was asked to find and added some more of my own. Things I would be focusing on were wind speeds, temperatures, heating and cooling days, highest precipitation and highest snowfall along with many others. I also planned to focus on summaries for every day, month, year, and time period. Daily so that I could compare to the almanac, monthly to get a good outlook on every month to find averages, and yearly to get highest wind speeds, precipitation, or snowfall for that year. The time periods I decided to focus on as well started with the entire life of The Observatory and then was divided into the two buildings The Observatory has been housed in, the Stage Office and the current Sherman Adams Building. When I finally accessed the database that was already compiled, I found my ideas for what statistics to gather reached further than the entered information I had to use. I then started to make an excel sheet that I could use to enter data for the last 75 years. Making the database and entering in 1935 took me an entire week. Every week after that, as I attempted to enter new years into that database, I found that as the B16 format changed so must my database. After getting every B16 to fit accurately, I decided to make sure it was simple for data entry so the observers could start using it everyday to have an electronic backup. I finished that process the last week we were on the summit.

That brings me to this week; my last week on the summit. I sit here writing this comment with 2 full years entered into my database, most of December for this year added as well, and no final statistics. It is difficult for me to do so much work and not finish this project, but as I got further into my project I realized it was impossible for me to finish myself. However, when it is finished I have a feeling it will be very important to The Observatory. So I’m sorry that I’m not post my findings, but you will hopefully have them soon. For now I will work as hard as can until I leave the summit for the final time of my internship on Wednesday.

Aubrie Pace – Summit Intern

03:03 Fri Dec 21st

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Moonlight captured by our webcams

A dark time has fallen upon the summit staff of Mount Washington. But worry not; it has nothing to do with death, instrument lost, or anything else devastating. Instead, I am referring to the length of our nights. As the winter solstice approaches Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 1:08 A.M. EST marking the first “day” of winter, the nights are stretching out to the longest amounts of the year. So that means that nights around this date last for 14 hours and 57 minutes on the summit. With nights this long, this means that my shift starts at 5:30 pm in darkness and ends at 5:30 am in darkness. I don’t see a single sunshine minute regardless of foggy or clear conditions.

But with nights like tonight, it is hard to complain. The winds are less than 10 mph with 7 inches of new snow making for some drifts of 4 feet or more and a base of 15” over the entire summit. Moonlight is shining bright on an almost complete undercast and bathing surrounding peaks in a soft white glow. With the generators off, the sound of silence is deafening. A rarity in winter to say the least and a moment I wouldn’t trade for all the sunlight in the world. Hello darkness my old friend…

And now for some random facts:
-Christmas Eve (December 24, 2007) is a full moon.
-You can tell if a moon is moving towards a full moon or a new moon based on its shape. If you can form a “D” with the lit part, it is dilating towards a full moon. If you can form a “C” with the lit part it is constricting towards a new moon. (Sorry about the pics, it is hard to photograph the moon with my digital camera)
-The latest sunrise and earliest sunsets do not actually occur on the night of the solstice. The earliest sunset occurred on December 8 this year and the latest sunrise will occur on January 5, 2008 according to the calculations I did for sunrise and sunset.
-The full moon for December is called the “Long Night Moon.”

Ryan Knapp – Staff Meteorologist

02:41 Thu Dec 20th

Dear Santa-

I forgot to mail our letter to you this year. I was going to email it but I seemed to have misplaced your email. So a comment post will have to suffice especially since I heard that you check out our webpage every morning before checking your list of naughty and nice.

So to begin. We have been a good boys and girls all year. We fed our kitty every morning and every night and even let him sit in our laps. We were kind to all our guests big and small, young and old. We worked extra hard and some of us even worked nights so others could sleep normal hours. We were kind to our friends both real and imaginary. If it is not too much trouble could you please bring us the following items this Christmas:

1. DVD’s or VHS’s - We like to watch movies especially since we don’t get any TV up here. We prefer DVD’s but when it comes down to it, something’s better than nothing.
2. Office Supplies so we can keep our weather records in order.
3. LL Bean wool socks, gloves, scarves, slippers, etc. to keep us warm on those cold winter nights. You know what I am talking about living way up there in the Arctic Circle.
4. An Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii to keep us occupied when the weather is too rough to go outside and play. Again, you know what I am talking about. I hear you rule at Wii bowling.
5. Nerf sporting equipment so we can play sports indoors without the fear of breaking a window.
6. Sporting equipment so we can play real sports outdoors when the weather permits.
7. Weather instruments so we can improve our observations even more.
8. Candy and gum to boost us when the weather is cold and the nights are long.
9. Snow – we can’t get enough of it.
10. The ability to find a suitable replacement to our cat Nin (good luck, Nin is priceless).
11. A new Bombardier with a heated rear cab to bring comfort to our observers and our edutripers.
12. An electric ice cream maker because the hand cranking type gets old after an hour.
13. Surprise us! I have seen enough movies and read enough books to know that you can work miracles and bring stuff we didn’t even think of.

We look forward to see what you bring us Tuesday, December 25th. We will leave you plenty of fresh baked cookies and a glass of milk, but don’t be surprised if I eat a few during my night shift. Just one thing, when you do arrive, please don’t just pop up while I am doing an observation, nothing creepier than a big man in a red suit walking around the observation deck at midnight acting all jolly.

Thanks-

Ryan Knapp – Staff Meteorologist

12:31 Tue Dec 18th

When I volunteered for a week in the winter at the Observatory, I was hoping to experience some extreme weather. Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of riding up to the summit in the in the copilot seat of the State’s Cat with Mike Pelchat. At times the conditions were white out and Mike had to stop the Cat and wait for some signs of the road. At the summit the winds were blowing at a sustained speed of 85 mph and gusting near 100 mph. I got my wish right off the bat.

Later on in the afternoon Mike invited me to walk out to check a couple of out buildings that housed transmitter equipment. At that time the winds were blowing at 100 mph with a 115 mph gust. It took a serious effort to keep my 6’5”, 250 lb body on its feet and headed in the direction of the building. In just 30 yards of stooped scrambling my heart was racing and I felt like I had just sprinted 300 yards. The pressure of a 100 mph wind is around 250 lbs. It’s kinda like pushing a sled with Teddy Bruschi on it. The tricky part was staying on my feet as the winds varied from about 90 mph to gusts around 110 mph constantly throwing me off balance. The thought entered my mind that if I fell, I might end up down in Tuckerman’s ravine.

The observers and interns get excited with the wild weather, even though it means more work. The observers need to go out on the deck every hour to get data. They also need to climb into the tower to de-ice rails that hold weather equipment. I can tell you, it is not easy, especially on a day like yesterday when winds exceeded 100 mph and wind chills of -60F. I went out to de-ice and shovel snow a couple of times. There can be no skin exposure in those conditions. I have developed a lot of respect for the observatory staff up here. They are young and fit, and take their jobs seriously.

From my seat at the table in the observatory kitchen, while preparing dinner, I hear the stove vent whistling and banging. I’ve gotten pretty accurate in guessing the wind velocity by listening to the vent noises. Maybe the next time the instruments freeze up, I can help make observations while drinking coffee in the kitchen.

Interested in bringing a part of the Mount Washington Observatory to your location? Check out our exciting educational outreach programs designed for schools, camps, Scouts, other science centers, as well as other groups. Have the MWO "Weathermobile" visit your location! Here's the latest news about our Educational Outreach Programs.

Check out Educational Outreach News!

Jon Gale – Summit Volunteer

09:30 Mon Dec 17th

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Gotta Love It

It’s been a very interesting week on top of Mount Washington, thus far. First of all, Zach is not with us this week, and this is my first time being on days by myself. This has resulted in me spending some time after dinner finishing up some paper work almost every night. If you frequent the website and check out the current conditions often, you might have noticed a very strange phenomenon. On Wednesday, winds appeared to go completely calm. This was not the case. Repeating the gut-wrenching experience that occurred last shift week, ice got into the lines for the Pitot tube, obstructing the flow of air, and making measurement not possible. At least this time, we were prepared. This happened again last night. Seems to be the luck this week.

Beginning with Wednesday, very soon after arriving on the summit, winds peaked at 117 mph. This was probably the best foreshadowing ever. Five out of six days, winds exceeded the century mark, and on that sixth day, winds were still sustained at over hurricane force for a little while. One might ask, “So, what’s it like up there when it’s that windy?” I’m going to attempt to answer that question.

Before even venturing outside, one has to take a little bit of time to dress properly. Long johns, fleece pants, snow pants, wool socks, snow boots, a sweater , down jacket, Gore-Tex shell, face mask, mittens, goggles, hat (I wear two because if I don’t, they blow off my head), and maybe a head lamp. Then you proceed to the tower. You want to check on the heaters for the Pitot tube, see how they’re working. Then you go up the ladder, and that’s when it gets interesting. Different wind directions mean different things. If there is a NW wind, at close to or exceeding 100 mph, getting up the ladder into the parapet is difficult, you are literally pulling and pushing yourself against the wind. Then, once you’re inside, the wind immediately pins you to the posts, making moving a little challenging. However, the show must go on, and you must de-ice the instruments, especially the Pitot tube, which is just the highest thing on the tower. Yesterday, a pleasant (and I use this word with extreme amounts of sarcasm) SE wind blew ice pellets our way, at a maximum speed of 103 mph. This made for a very nice layer of glaze ice on the instruments, and our coats, boots, snow pants, goggles, pretty much everything. It also caused a small flood in the weather room after all the ice melted off our coats and pants. Glaze ice is a lot more difficult to deal with than rime ice. Rime ice is a light density, almost fluffy ice, due to lots of trapped air. The good news is that the glazing didn’t last for too long. However, as the storm that caused the ice pellets is on its way out, and as usual, it gets windy up here on the back end of the storm. There never is a dull moment atop Mount Washington!

Windy Days

Stacey Kawecki – Observer

06:06 Sat Dec 15th

So far the crew has only seen fifteen minutes worth of sunshine since arriving on the summit Wednesday. We have been obscured by clouds and what has seemed like endless light snow and snow showers. That will all change today when skies become mostly clear and the sun shines brightly upon the summit. I'll be sleeping through the day so my total sunshine minutes will stay at zero presumably for the rest of the week. Zach is off this week, so I am covering on nights while he is away. Zach, if your reading this, please come back next week so I can go back on my normal schedule.

There is a great event going on at the Weather Discovery Center today from 10 am to 5 pm, the fifteenth of December. There will be a celebration for the opening of several new exhibits. I don't want to spoil all of the surprise, but I will give you some hints. The new exhibits consist of a 3-D relief model of Mount Washington, an exhibit on New Hampshire's hikeSafe program, one on the seasons of Mount Washington, as well as an exhibit on weather instruments and observations. There will also be a special "Live from the Rockpile" at 11:15 where you can talk to a summit meteorologist through a live video feed in the Weather Discovery Center Theater. Admission to the weather discovery center is free thanks to the generosity of Observatory members. If you are in the area, stop by and see the new exhibits and learn more about the programs that the Observatory has to offer.

Also, if you are having trouble finding that perfect gift for that special someone check out our online store. There is a wide variety of items that would make any Mount Washington lover or weather enthusiast happy this holiday season.

Kyle Paddleford – Observer

15:08 Thu Dec 13th

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Yesterday the summit was shrouded with clouds and bombarded with high winds. The peak gust was received at 11:52 AM at a speed of 117 MPH. Despite the blustery weather and low visibility our fearless CAT driver plowed us all the way to the peak; allowing the observers, interns, and volunteer who had worked the prior week to head to their respective cozy homes.

Today the summit cleared early increasing the horizontal visibility to 100 miles. This clarity allowed us to see what exactly 100 MPH winds can bring. As Linnea and I embarked on our morning shoveling routine, we were greeted by chest high drifts in the front entrance. The wind-packed snow allowed us to walk on the drifts without sinking. The daily snow removal task was beyond physically taxing. Fortunately, we were aided by a friendly NH State Park employee who offered his assistance and his snowblower. Relieved by the aid, we shoveled snow into the machine since even it could not bite into the dense drifts.

In the midst of our sweat and short breaths, we were greeted by a more welcome surprise; a visit from a fox. The fox cocked its head sideways and watched us work. Its beautifully thick coat, sharp eyes, and agility reminded me that not all of us use technology, heating, and other luxurious commodities to survive, but live in the undomesticated world naturally.

Karen Thorp – Summit Intern

18:02 Tue Dec 11th

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Monthly Sky Cover Scores

Intern’s Log: stardate -316942.46 – This will be my last entry in this log…

Somehow this week flew by even though nothing exciting happened in terms of weather conditions. Of course this may all change tomorrow for shift change when sustained winds of over 90 mph and gusts well above 100 mph are forecasted. I guess it is appropriate that the highest winds I will ever experience may occur on my last day here on the summit. As you may have already gathered, this was the final week of my internship on the summit and it is now time to see what is available to me in the ever changing meteorology job market.

As an intern, one is required to work on an intern project during one’s stay here on the summit. My intern project involved taking Mount Washington Higher Summits forecasts from October 2006 through April 2007, comparing them to the actual observations and assigning them a score based several categories and scoring systems. If you’re wondering why just those months it was because this was a continuation of two previous intern projects. The objective: to determine how well observers are able to forecast for the rapidly changing weather conditions that Mount Washington presents. The facets of each forecast that I decided to focus on were cloud cover, fog forecasting, and wind speed forecasting. And now finally, 4 months later, it is completed.

Of all the time I have spent up here, the time that was most well spent was creating and building friendships with the people working on my shift. Although the beautiful sunsets that can be seen here when we are not in the fog are a close second. This experience is truly one that I will never forget and I hope at some point in my life I will make it back here to take it all in one more time.

Peter Sciola – Summit Intern

11:03 Mon Dec 10th

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Some of the crew with Jim Cantore

The subject of today’s comment is actually something that occurred last Wednesday. This just happens to be the first chance I have had to write about it.

The Observatory has been getting quite a bit of media attention lately, not that this is anything new. Of course, the most notable media exposure was Good Morning America’s live broadcast from the summit in mid November. This past Wednesday we had yet another television station visit us for the day to film.

This time it was WCBS-2 from New York City. Four people came up with shift change: a producer, a camera man, and 2 on camera personalities. The one on camera personality was Lonnie Quinn, who is the lead on air weathercaster at WCBS. The other was a rather well known personality from the Weather Channel, Jim Cantore. Jim is best known for his work in the field, covering significant weather events for the Weather Channel. His trip up was through a partnership that the Weather Channel has with WCBS.

Both men have a background in meteorology. Jim got his degree in meteorology from Lyndon State College and Lonnie holds a certificate in meteorology. I basically spent the day showing them around the summit, while they filmed and asked me questions. Their knowledge of the weather made it very easy to talk to them and made it a lot of fun too.

WCBS made this visit to film for a special they will be airing about extreme winter weather. Mount Washington will be featured in a segment within the show that will be about 3 minutes long. Unfortunately, unless you get WCBS-2 where you live, you won’t be able to see the show. That is unless they happen to make it available on their website of course.

Here are a few other pictures from the day:

Brian and Jim Cantore

Our guests at lunch

The whole crew in front of the Bombardier

Brian Clark – Observer

22:29 Sat Dec 8th

The following interview took place in an observer’s head between Imaginary Reporter (IR) and Staff Meteorologist (SM) the night of December 8th, 2007:

IR: Good evening and thanks for having me here. For the record, spell your name and where you are from.

SM: Sure. It’s Ryan, R-Y-A-N, Knapp, K-N-A-P-P from Berlin, B-E-R-L-I-N, New Hampshire, N-H.

IR: Great, thanks. Alright, let’s start with the weather. What’s happening outside right now?

SM: Well, at the last observation, we had blowing snow and freezing fog with a visibility of 1/16 of a mile and a temperature of two below with winds from the northwest at 65 mph gusting to 74 mph…

IR: Is that hurricane force?

SM: Well the gusts are a category 1 force but the sustained is not. Earlier though, we we had sustained winds for a category 1 hurricane with a gust of about 95 mph.

IR: Wow, impressive. Now earlier I saw you working on a bunch of forms sprawled out on the table. What was that all about?

SM: That was monthly check. Every month, we look over our various charts and forms for quality control and to derive various climatological statistics for the month. This is all then scanned, filed, mailed, and uploaded to various servers and climatological agencies. It is a lot of work that takes a few hours but it helps provide a window into what is going on up here and how it compares to the previous 75 years of weather observing this station has accumulated.

IR: What are some of the things that you guys are looking at for statistics?

SM: The key things are temperature, melted precipitation, snowfall, winds, clouds, and sunshine.

IR: Ok. Well let’s work through each one of those topics to see what you discovered for the month of November for Mount Washington, NH. I guess we will just work in order. What did you discover about temperature?

SM: Well we had a high of 42 Farhenheit on the 22nd and a low of 9 below on the twenty fourth.

IR: Did you have any records between those two?

SM: No, November saw no new records made.

IR: Is this unusual?

SM: No, we can go months or even years without breaking a record. It is all about how the weather plays out.

IR: What was the average temperature for the month?

SM: Our average was 17.1 Farhenheit which was 3.5 degrees below average.

IR: Does this mean global warming is over and that global cooling is taking over?

SM: No, it doesn’t work like that…

IR: I was just kidding. Interesting though that you guys were so cold. How about precipitation? How did this pan out?

SM: Well, we received 7.47 inches for the month with 24 hours providing us with 1.93 inches but that still was not enough to bring us to our normal November amount. Therefore we were 3.02 inches below normal.

IR: That’s not good. Did you guys fair any better with snowfall amounts?

SM: Well we received 33.4 inches, with 10.7 inches of that coming on the 6th. But again that still was not enough. We were 7.4 inches below normal on snowfall for November.

IR: How does this effect the season so far?

SM: Well, for the season, which goes from July of this year until June of next year, we have received 40.4 inches which is 16.6 inches below normal.

IR: Wow, that is quite a deficit to make up, do you think you can do it?

SM: The winter is still young, so it’s anyone’s game.

IR: True. Well how about winds, you guys had some pretty good gusts last month. How did your average winds fair when compared to normal?

SM: Well, we came close to normal with 40.1 mph which was only 0.4 mph lower than normal. We did get a peak gust of 110 mph on the 16th, which was one of four days that we had gusts over 100 mph. We also had 20 days with gusts of 73 mph or more which would make them hurricane force.

IR: Wow, you guys don’t play around when it comes to wind.

SM: Nope, when it comes to winds, it’s got to be large.

IR: Gotchya. Well how about some other weather facts?

SM: Well we had 8 days of rain and 20 days of snow. We had 6 clear days, 4 partly cloudy days, and 20 cloudy days. We had 28 days where fog occurred for at least fifteen minutes. With all the fog and clouds we had, we only received 34% of our possible sunshine for the month.

IR: Huh. Well I guess that explains why you are so pasty and white.

SM: That’s not funny.

IR: Sorry. So, how does one become a weather observer?

SM: Well most of us are college educated but any one can observe the weather. I know a few amateur valley observers. It is real easy and our online store carries some of the things to get you started from simple thermometers all the way up to a full system. If you are really into observing, you can even become a COOP observer for the National Weather Service.

IR: Is there any positions on the summit?

SM: We are still looking for an IT observer and we are always accepting applications for interns up here. Interning is the easiest way to be an observer up here and is open to anyone 18 and older. Our site has more information on that.

IR: Interesting. Well thanks for all the information and for taking the time to talk with us. And we look forward to finding out what December holds for you guys. Take care.

SM: No problem and thanks.

Ryan Knapp – Staff Meteorologist

18:12 Fri Dec 7th

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View From Tower 120707

“So Steve, my buddy, can you move the two racks from the library to the server room” said Ken during Wednesday’s shift change.
“Yes sure no problem” I naively replied.
Little did I know that to get to the said racks would entail excavating through years of accumulated flotsam, discarded debris and the remains of past projects. After several hours of cleaning and sorting, the racks are now in the server room and the library is once again accessible. Some of the more interesting items found included an old camera system, an air bed, a telescope, several hundred weight of empty boxes, oxygen bottles, a microscope, a blow up globe and windows with a great view to the North!

The server room has seen some big changes in the past week or so. We now have a central uninterruptable power supply (UPS) system in place. Until now each computer has had it’s own UPS to handle the frequent power outages and surges that occur up here. The new central system is a lot more efficient and can handle all of our sensitive equipment. We also recently installed an environmental monitoring system, to warn us if the temperature or humidity moves out of range. It may seem strange but the biggest problem we face in the server room is controlling the temperature buildup that can occur. We currently regulate this by opening vents to the outside. Over the past few days the room has been very pleasant, in the low sixties, with all the vents open to the outside, where the air temperature has been around zero. You can imagine what happens when we get a heat wave and the temperature rises into the twenties. Future IT plans include migrating our phone system to TTM over IP and upgrading the version of Linux on our servers.

On the weather side, today has been very interesting. It started out quite clear with the stars and moon visible, however, as the morning progressed the clouds moved in to give some great views of under cast and higher clouds – see the photograph which was taken from the tower around 11am this morning. Later in the afternoon we moved back into freezing fog and snow.

Steve Welsh – IT Observer

17:05 Thu Dec 6th

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Nin, hard at work like always

So I guess the proverbial cat is out of the bag. No pun intended.

Those that were able to watch the Good Morning America broadcast on November 19th were the first to find out that our beloved Observatory cat, Nin, will be retiring from his post on the summit in a few weeks. Quite a bit of discussion ensued in our forums. Of course, if you didn’t get to see the Good Morning America broadcast and don’t peruse our forums, then you may not have known until our volunteer from last week, Katherine, briefly mentioned his imminent departure in her comment yesterday.

I figured it would be best at this point to take a moment and fill people in, especially since we have received numerous inquiries on this subject.

The decision to retire Nin from the summit was made a couple months ago after he had a few health problems. He is perfectly fine now that the health issues have been taken care of (he had a mouth full of bad teeth that had to be removed). However, Nin is about 17 years old, so it was decided that the most humane thing to do at this point was to move him to a home in the valley where he could get immediate vet attention if he were to fall ill. If that were to happen on the summit in the dead of winter, there may not be an opportunity to get him down for a couple of days.

It will be very sad to see Nin leave and we will miss him dearly, however I am glad to say that there will be a successor to Nin. The Conway Humane Society has already offered to donate a new cat and they have even suggested one that they think would be suited well to life on the summit. It was a unanimous decision by the summit crew to find a successor to Nin. We all love having a cat around and cats on the summit have been a long standing tradition for the Observatory. It makes it feel a little more like home up here and it would certainly feel very strange not to have a cat roaming about.

When Nin does leave on December 26th, he will be going to live with two long time employees of the Mount Washington State Park in Gorham, NH. Both of them have been here since Nin was first brought up in the early 90's and I am positive that they will provide a wonderful new home for him.

Brian Clark – Observer

08:36 Wed Dec 5th

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Low Lying Clouds

Here I am again in one of my favorite places to volunteer. Each time there are familiar faces and new greeting me. Always welcoming. Each group making my experience up here fresh. This particular group, as with the others, young, intelligent and ambitious. Eager to learn and share. With 3 young ladies as part of the crew this time, I have to admit it’s been especially pleasant for me. Also there are the State Park personnel that are next door. They are essential to the smooth running of the generators, etc. on their end and are wonderful people to get to know. Including Red one of the State Parks essential people.

Sunday was a gift from sunrise to sunset. An amazing sunrise, and with virtually no wind. I was able to get out and do quite a bit of hiking around the peak this day. I have to admit shame though. I was furious with myself for sleeping about 10 minutes too long. Although I was able to capture part of the sunrise, I missed the best part. Just before the sun breaks through. You almost don’t want to sleep at all when here, always afraid of missing a magical moment.

Late Sunday afternoon the cap clouds were amazing. Streaks of cloud racing over the peaks from two directions and diving into the valley below. It was a sight I’ll not forget. As much as I tried to capture them with my camera, I found myself in awe watching the spectacle in front of me. Isn’t our natural world amazing? Sometimes the awe and splendor of what I witness here, (not just here) brings tears to my eyes.

Early Monday a snow storm hit. Visibility was only a few feet. I still bundled up and got out for my daily walk, then played soccer on the Observation Deck with the crew. The wind was down and it just felt good to get out and play, even though you couldn’t see much. Tuesday another socked in day, however, low wind and high temps. (5-10 degrees) made it still possible for me to get my peak walk in. Not too much to photograph, just snow, snow and more snow. I did still manage to get a couple of interesting shots.

Wednesday is here and time to go down to reality. I’m ready to return home, however look forward to my next visit to the summit. What will be missing on my next visit is Nin. He will be moving into a wonderful home, but will be truly missed on the summit.

Check out my website! www.PhotographyByKatherine.com

Katherine MacDonald – Summit Volunteer

14:17 Tue Dec 4th

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The Butterfly Effect; Noun; a term attributed to Edward Lorenz and used to describe the effect a small disturbance can have on a non-linear dynamical system (the atmosphere for example). Also called “sensitivity to initial conditions”, it refers to the idea that the tiny perturbations in the atmosphere caused by the flap of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately set off a tornado or other high powered storm (conversely, it can also prevent such an event).

I was reminded of this phenomenon when Karen and I took a walk down the Auto Road to check on one of the Auto Road Vertical Temperature Profile (ARVTP) sites. Frozen to the road was a monarch butterfly. And who knows, had it not succumbed on the side of Mt Washington it may have been the instrumental force in preventing the yesterday’s storm.

Linnea Koons – Summit Intern

18:07 Sun Dec 2nd

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Descending from above.

As everyone up here anxiously waits for the first winter storm of the season, today was filled with surprises! First was being free from the fog which provided for exquisite views. As the sun rose around 7 AM, we witnessed a sun pillar far off to the southeast. The tall orange tower illuminated the clouds. Quite different from twenty four hours before when bitter cold and whipping winds grasped the summit. A few hours later in the morning, Chris Uggerholt from the Mount Washington State Park, stopped by to share that he could see the Atlantic Ocean down to the Isle of Shoales. The ocean reflected the sun a vibrant orange off the water. Clouds lowered through the day as we continuously watch the satellite and radar images.

Another highlight was our furry friend Nin. He found plenty of company up in the weather room as he relaxed on the radiator while listening to tunes the Pink Floyd. Towards the end of the day, the clouds hooked below the summit and created a very thin cap cloud. The air was very dry today and aided in creating the thin wisps of condensed moisture that appeared similar to an illusion. Even one of the summit foxes stopped by to enjoy the views. Yup, it really goes to show that you never know what to expect up here… even if you are one the world’s worst weather forecasters*.

* One of the puns we like to use up here.

Zach Allen – Meteorologist

08:50 Sat Dec 1st

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Pegged!

Some of you are probably wondering where I am lately. Well this week Kyle and I are trading places! That’s right Kyle is working the night shift as I am working with Stacey on days. It is a nice change and gives me a chance to get some sunlight this week, if we see anymore. Yesterday the summit saw a break from the clouds providing for forty-five minutes of sunshine and there hasn’t been much more since this past Thursday began. The short break was good to see where the sun is setting these days. Looking west towards Killington and Pico in Vermont the orange glow dropped towards the horizon. The days are nearing the shortest they will be for the year in just a few short weeks.

This morning has been filled with excitement already! Temperatures feel like winter by dropping down to minus 15 degrees. A short lived Artic blast will be felt up here throughout the day. Winds have also been quite exciting by peaking at 120 mph so far! Stacey and I checked the Hays chart before heading out the precipitation can. Good thing too because winds were sustained around 100 mph. After waiting a few minutes the winds dwindled some and the task was completed without any glitches. Going out to deice, shovel, getting the precipitation can and to do observations takes bundling up. Wind chills have been in nearing -60 today and the importance of good gear (Thanks L.L. Bean!) and preparation is vital to working safely up here. So time to head outside with my wool socks, winter boots, long johns, snow pants, two shirts, down coat with a shell over it, neck warmer, goggles, skull cap, and winter hat!

Zach Allen – Meteorologist

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