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Observer Comments

December 2010

17:14 Thu Dec 30th

photo - see caption below
hazy valley

Finally, it's not Sunday and we have Sun! Having spent my holiday in Ohio, I missed the whopper of a storm that hit my home state (NJ) and apparently, the entire New England coast. I may have obsessively watched The Weather Channel for hours on Sunday night and Monday morning. That storm system moved out and allowed for fairly favorable shift change weather. Oftentimes after a big storm, temperatures will plunge into chilling depths. This happens when high pressure advances from Canada, pulling cold, continental air down from the north.

High pressure is indeed building, however, this time it is from the southeast. Instead of shivering into three or more layers as the mercury dips below zero, we'll be sweating and shedding layers. Temperatures are forecast to break the freezing mark tomorrow, and approach record setting highs in the lower forties by Saturday! We can practically ring in the new year with fancy pink umbrellas and Hawaiian shirts (however, I arrived unprepared; my Hawaiian shirt is sadly hanging in my closet).

One of the more interesting consequences of warming up (besides the diminishing snow pack - sorry guys, looks like it's our shift again) is the VERY large chunks of ice we were unable to dislodge from various parts of the building will, undoubtedly, fall from the building. Hopefully they will do so in a loud, uproarious fashion. I want to hear the groaning ice separating from the building, and a satisfying thunk or crash when it hits the ground. Partially because its cool, but mostly because if you hear a groaning sound, chances are you'll be able to move far enough away from the source of the noise before it falls to the ground at neck-breaking speed.

In the mean time, we'll enjoy the beautiful weather!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer and Meteorologist

22:24 Wed Dec 29th

Observer Note: You may have noticed a lack of wind speed data on our home page and on our current summit conditions page. Due to the failure of our wind speed devices capable of withstanding icing conditions, the wind data we are currently collecting, when in freezing fog conditions, is erroneous. When we are in the clear and no icing is taking place we will publish wind speed data from a secondary working anemometer. In addition, as an FYI, much of the wind data that is recorded on the NWS Form F-6, available through our weather page, is skewed low by approximately 30-40%. Thanks for bearing with us as we work diligently to replace our faulty anemometer.

Well, it's another week on the summit for us. This is our fourth Christmas week spent here. First time was in 2004, then 2006, 2008, and now 2010. Each time a wonderful experience and opportunity of volunteering for the Mount Washington Observatory.

We have had from near dead calm sunny days, to blizzard and 105 mph plus winds. From strolling and a 4 mile hike with Mike Finnegan (see Observer comments dated 12-24-10) to being blown over in the blizzard which gripped the East Coast this past weekend. Of course snow wasn't a problem for us - we were not going anywhere and we didn't even have a car to brush off. Correction - I just remembered our van in the valley at the end of the auto road. Hum, I wonder what it looks like.

People back home (in Michigan, an 898 mile drive from here) wonder why do we do this? It does have some serious "bragging rights". Last time, Susan and I became members of the Century Club - a walk around the deck in sustained 100mph plus winds.

But the real reason is to stand in the face of power greater than can be imagined. To see beauty as I described in a Christmas Eve e-mail home: "Below lay mountain tops and valleys with a still flowing blanket of snow clouds, between which were the lights of towns, some close at the base of this mountain, and other lights from Maine and the coast 100 miles away. Above, in a clear sky, is the brightness of the moon illuminating these panoramic mountains, valleys and clouds. If earth be envisioned from a satellite: it would look like this, this picture which God has given us this night, is truly a beautiful sight."

On this pinnacle of danger and struggle, as we are protected by these structures, we as individuals can be blessed by the protective embrace of others; of family, of friends, of even a stranger in the darkness bringing a word of kind encouragement. We need to remember who we are - a friend and opportunity to others. A pinnacle of strength and power and of hope and friendship.

Join us in this experience and enjoy this wonderful mountain and the Mount Washington Observatory.

John & Susan Van Slooten – Summit Volunteers

22:07 Tue Dec 28th

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Todays sunset as seen through rime on window.

Five years ago to this day, (December 28, 2005) I started working at the Mount Washington Observatory. I started as an intern the same season as Brian but a month or so after arriving as an intern; I was hired on as a temporary-full time observer. What this title meant was I was hired as an observer but I had until the end of my internship for the Observatory and I to decide whether or not I should continue as a full time observer. Well, since I am writing this comment now, I guess you could say we both agreed that a full time position would be mutually beneficial.

This past week leading up to this date, I started to think of how many things have changed in my five years here. We have touched upon many of these in past comments but just in case you missed them, here is what's changed in my five years here:

-Our Bombardier snow tractor went from the unheated, bench seated, yellow "short bus" to the heated, captain-seated, white "snow leopard".

-A limited water storage capacity meant the rule of "if it's yellow let it mellow; if it's brown flush in down" was etched in our minds. We were limited to one military shower per week but most of us opted not to take one at all. In short, water in was fine but water out should be as limited as possible. There were times where buckets were looked at for an option even. But now with the new year-round septic system, water restrictions are a complete mystery to new volunteer and interns since water out is no longer an issue.

-The hum and smell of the power generators was like a smelly white noise machine. The "switch over" between the two generators was a regular occurrence. And lights were on everywhere to make them run more efficiently. Now with a buried power line, nights smell crisp and are only noisy when we lose valley power or the winds are howling. And all unnecessary lights are turned off to cut down on power costs.

-Our logo went from a blue and magenta 80s/90s look to the red and white modernized one that plasters the very website you are on.

-Time sheets were due Wednesday and now they are due Mondays.

-Work weeks could mean just that, back to back weeks. There was one time I was up here three weeks in a row. The only ones with the week on week off scheduling back then were the interns. Now and days, we all are on the week on week off scheduling with little to no exceptions (except if we take extra time off).

-Crews were two observers and one intern. And with the staggering schedules, no two weeks would have the same crew. This meant there was no good weather/bad weather shifts and we got to work with and know everyone. Now, there are three observers and one to two interns on each shift and we are on the same crew for long periods of time with very little interactions going on except on Wednesday and the occasional visits during off weeks.

-Volunteers were hard to come by. I remember several weeks of not having volunteers up here. Now there is a waiting list that stretches into next year from what I've heard and when we don't have a volunteer up here, people freak out.

-Computer screens were CRT and now are LCD.

-The server room was a lot more spacious then it is today.

-Every single room up here looks different. Some are subtle differences but some are big. There are too many changes to list.

-The cog still was running all coal and now is mainly powered by all diesel.

-Various structures and buildings have been torn down and removed.

-With the exception of one or two valley staffers and operators, both summit and valley crews are completely different than when I started.

-Distance learning didn't exist. So the whole command center that Stacey and Brian use didn't exist except for a lonely polycom for a few connections with the Weather Discovery Center from time to time.

-Specific job titles and specific qualifications didn't exist. We were all just weather observers. Now we have a staff meteorologist/observer, distance learning observer and IT observer on each shift.

-Partnerships with companies like Subaru have stayed strong but others have changed or have come on board over the years.

-Our website is completely different. Some elements are the same but the look and experience is nothing like it once was. The website when I started can be outdone by most teenagers now and days. Obscast, forums, and pdf copies of Windswept among other features didn't even exist when I started.

-Seek the Peak has expanded exponentially. I remember a time when we had left over goodie bags believe it or not. Now we have to put a cap on the number of participants.

-"Automated" equipment we have owned and were testing are no longer around due to our destructive winds and ice. And even some instruments we currently have have been on the list for repairing since before I got here (and if aren't repaired soon, may be on the list after I'm gone).

-Intern tasks like Airmap, COSMO, and other projects and requirements no longer exist.

-Where once VHS's and Playstation 2 were the only things being watched on our TV's, today we have DVD's, Blue Ray, Netflix (thanks for that Christmas gift those of you in the forums that contributed to this), and even limited cable TV (it came up with the power line).

-The ARVP was started but now we have started expanding into our Mesonet sites around the Whites.

I'm sure I could go on and on but I think I have touched upon the big changes I have seen. Hopefully you can see how much has changed in just five year's time. Since I have been working on cataloging our pictures (with Mike C), I look at pictures from the 1930s and 1940s and really see how much has changed since then. And who knows how much more will change in the next year or five. But while crews, living quarters, quality of life, job titles, technology, etc are continuously evolving and changing up here one thing has remained and will remain constant up here even after this crew departs: the recording and reporting of the weather. And hopefully that'll never change.

Ryan Knapp – Staff Meteorologist

16:19 Mon Dec 27th

Well, it is going to be another quiet night here on the summit. Not unexpected, but not necessary planned either. We were supposed to have our first overnight climbing trip of the season led by EMS, but the mountain seems to have had other thoughts. Snow has been falling all day here on the summit, as it has in most of the northeast, and winds have been moderately strong in the 50-80 mph range. This is a perfect speed to lift this newly fallen snow and deposit it in the lee areas. Some areas in the notch have recorded nearly two feet of new snow so far today, so travelling is sure to be laborious to say the least. Add to that significant blowing snow and thick fog above treeline coupled with subzero temperatures on the summit and it is a surely a difficult day to be outside on the mountain. Turning back is quite often a very good idea. As much as one wants to make it to the summit, as many times as people have been shut down before, the mountain will be here another day and you will be here to give it another go. For tomorrow, winds are looking to stay strong through the day, but the fog should clear to reveal a newly sculpted landscape of snow and ice.

Mike Finnegan – IT Observer

16:15 Sun Dec 26th

It's a Christmas miracle! The storm that just a few days ago looked as though it was going to harmlessly turn out to sea and have little impact on our weather is now taking dead aim at New England. The worst of the storm in terms of snow accumulations will be closer to the coast than we are. In fact, Boston will likely see accumulations of 12-18 inches with the possibility for as much as two feet.

Here on the summit, we will also see a nice amount of snow, with 8-12 inches likely. The bigger story with this storm, for us at least, looks to be the wind. By tomorrow, winds will be gusting near 100 mph, and then tomorrow night and early Tuesday winds will peak with sustained readings around 100 mph with gusts even higher than that.

Making this storm all that more exciting is the fact that this is going to be our first major storm of the winter. Yes, we've had a few 100+ mph gusts so far this winter, but none of those came from what would be considered a widespread, major storm (as strange as that may sound). Also, this storm could put us very close to our average snowfall for the month of December, with just under a week left before we turn the page on the calendar.

Undoubtedly, we will be writing about the storm in the Observer Comments here on our website, and you can keep an eye on current conditions on the Weather page. Also, if you haven't already, 'like' our page on Facebook for even more updates and pictures!

Brian Clark – Observer and Meteorologist

20:00 Sat Dec 25th

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Merry Christmas from the summit crew!

Today was a beautiful day on the summit. The winds were low and the temperatures were cold but tolerable where you could go out without goggles and face masks. The three of us spent the afternoon outside playing in the snow (Mike and Brian played while I snapped photos) while our volunteers for the week went for a quick hike around the summit. A few hikers were spotted out and about but for the most part, it was only us. The day drew to a close and now we are settling in to open gifts and partake in the delicious spread our volunteers are prepping for us. Overall a great day and a Merry Christmas for the Observatory crew working up here.

Now, over the years here, I have two traditional comments I write around this time of year: a Letter to Santa (see December 10, 2010) and a "summitized" parody of a Christmas story or song. The first poem/song I parodied was "The 12 Days of Christmas" with my version titled "The 12 Days of Summit Christmas". The following year, I put my own twist on the story of "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Last year, I spun a twist on "Jingle Bells" with my version called "Summit Weeks". And this year, I put my twist on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" with my version titled "Marty the Black-Haired Maine Coon". I had other ideas but constraints on time narrowed my choice down to this one. But the upside is I can use those other ideas in the coming years. So hopefully you enjoy it. But before I go, our crew would like to wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and JOYFUL HOLIDAYS!

Marty the Black-Haired Maine Coon

You know Ryan and Brian
And Michael and Michael,
Stacey and Steven
And the interns that pass through.
But do you recall
The most famous resident of all?


Marty the black-haired Maine coon
Had a very shiny coat
And if you never shone a light on it
You'd be ask'n "where'd he go?"
All of the weather observers
Like to play and give him nicknames
Always letting Marty
Join in all their weather games


Then one cloudy Christmas Night
Santa came to say
Marty since your eyes shine clear
Won't you watch my many reindeer?
Then all the observers loved him
For all the gifts by their lil' tree
Marty the black-haired Maine Coon
You're such a lil' mystery.

Ryan Knapp – Staff Meteorologist

17:31 Fri Dec 24th

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Knapper Takes in the Sunset

Today has been a fine day filled with fine views. This morning I awoke before the sun and completed my first observation under the soft blue light of a newly waning moon. By the next observation, the sun was rising over the Atlantic, casting soft pink color on the tower with an undercast below and the moon above, enjoying the beginning of the day as well. As the sun rose a bit higher, the color of the alpineglow intensified, casting its friendly light on the northern presidentials and on Franconia ridge, which was just keeping it's head above the clouds. I could even see a glimmering gem of a mountain far on the horizon, my home mountain of Jay Peak!

After completing my last few hours of observations, I decided it would be a good idea to get outside for a bit since sunset is at 4:16 in the afternoon and I would have to have the forecast done as well by 5 pm. One of our volunteers, John, and I set off to hike over towards Clay. The hike was great with fine conditions for crampons, stiff windslab in some places and scoured to ice in others, with occasional drifts. I was also happy to see the Great Gulf filling in nicely for riding later this winter! We made it back to the summit with plenty of time for forecasting and more importantly, sunset, the other side of the tower receiving the warm light this time. The wind by this time had begun to pick up and with it began blowing snow, making it pretty, but a bit chilly. If tomorrow's weather is any better than today's, it is going to be quite the Christmas present for up here!

Mike Finnegan – IT Observer

22:28 Thu Dec 23rd

When it comes to the weather, some surprises are better than others. A bright, sunny day on the summit when it was supposed to be foggy is often a pleasant thing, especially if we have been stuck in the clouds for several days straight. On the other hand, a storm that was supposed to bring snow and unexpectedly turns to rain is not considered a pleasant surprise by those of us on the summit. Yesterday's weather brought a surprise; in this case a good one. What was supposed to be just some snow showers turned into a steady snowfall that lasted into this morning, dropping more than half a foot on the summit. Now, that may not seem like all that much in the grand scheme of things, but when considerably less than that was expected, it is a lot! The only problem is that, unfortunately, these weather surprises often come at the expense of the psyche of the forecaster who ended up being wrong.

Right now, a coastal storm is being forecasted for early next week. As with any coastal storm, the track is key. If the center stays too far offshore, we get a few flurries, and unfortunately this is the direction the models are trending. So, here's hoping to another (good) weather surprise early next week, in the form of a storm track closer to the coast!

Brian Clark – Observer and Meteorologist

22:09 Wed Dec 22nd

Twas two nights before Christmas
and all over the Mount
There were wind speeds and snow flakes
too many to count
The crew was preparing
to escape via cat
To join friends and family
cause that's where it's at
On Kristen and Stacey
on Mike and on Jen
On Steve, Charlie and Jeanine
off to the Glen
Another Christmas is about to arrive
It's a wonderful time to be alive!

Christmas is rapidly approaching. A time for reconnecting with friends and family, a time for giving and receiving, and a time for reflecting on all we have and how blessed we are. This is our second trip here this calendar year as we changed from our usual mid-January to mid-December time after our last trip. We had anticipated traveling beginning after the holidays but could not have anticipated what was to be. Plans were made and materials bought to transform our home into a warmer, energy efficient, maintenance free abode but unforeseen obstacles brought cold weather before a permit. Since we had already started deconstruction we decided to postpone work and vacate for the winter. No stockings by the mantle with care (no mantle), no Christmas cards on the bookcase, and no candles in the windows. But, alas, here we are surrounded by a group of warm, friendly folks who themselves are, though temporarily, homeless.

The weather station is just that, more office like than homey. This week we've decorated and created some traditional Christmas delights and the "atmosphere" is festive. One evening we had an assortment of finger food (not literally), rather than the usual dinner, as we relaxed in the living room. We were even treated to Christmas music by Stacey and Jen rounding out the evening. The one event that was missing this year, though, was our family tradition of cutting our Christmas tree. With weather on the mountain being relatively calm I decided to attempt to find one. Making my way to below tree line and finding an acceptable specimen turned out to be a daunting task. One was found, however, and the return trip undertaken. The one aspect I had not considered was how rough the trip would be for the tree but, alas, I reached the summit with tree in hand. Unfortunately, there aren't enough decorations on the "hill" to make it look good.

It has been a wonderful week and putting all the puns, jokes and impossible stories aside a time to reflect on how "lucky" we all are (and I mean all). Take a moment to look around and realize for all our difficulties there are so many folks dealing with far worse. Thanks to MWO for this opportunity and NH State Parks for help and friendship. Jeanine and I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

Charlie and Jeanine Kinney – Summit Volunteers

16:11 Tue Dec 21st

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The Bad Weather Shift

Well, call me a maple tree, 'cause this one is going to be sappy.

Out of all the days of the week, Tuesday is, in my humble opinion, the least significant. Monday is, well, Monday. Wednesday marks the halfway point of the week. Thursday means that Friday is just around the corner. Friday is the end of the week, and the weekend is just within reach. And, of course, Saturday and Sunday are days to sit back and relax. So where does Tuesday fit in?

Despite it not being my most favorite day of the week, this Tuesday is pretty significant. Not only was there a total lunar eclipse of the moon last night (which, sadly, was blocked from view by fog), it also marks the Winter Solstice as well as the end of my time here on the Rockpile. It seems like a strange coincidence that the other two events coincide with the end of what has been a truly amazing experience. This alignment hasn't occurred since 1638, so that has to have some meaning, right?

As silly as it may be, I have an interest in astrology. In fact, there has rarely been a morning since I started where Stacey, Kristin and I haven't read all our horoscopes out loud...and maybe even read them to Mike and Steve while they begrudgingly listened. With all the talk about 2012 and the 'end of the world', many are lead to believe that these two events lining up are a bad omen of events to come. Maybe it's me and my blind optimism, but I like to think it's a sign of good things to come. The eclipse and the solstice both signify the end of one cycle and the birth of a new. In my what seems like never-ending search for a 'real job', I can't help but hope that it means things will take a turn for the better soon. This goes not just for myself, but for all recent college grads that are stuck in the same unemployed boat. Even if it was only a few short months, I was fortunate enough to be able to intern at the Obs and gain experience that is unmatched and I know will be valuable in the future.

I have learned more in four months than I could possibly say I learned in four years of college in terms of forecasting and other aspects of meteorology. It's one thing reading a few chapters in a book, taking some notes, then telling your professor your learned something by answering a bunch of questions. But actually being able to apply what you know and see weather in action as opposed to just seeing it on paper or watching a video is a whole different ballgame. I've also had the opportunity to work on a number of other skills. As said before, you become a jack of all trades. One such skill was shoveling. I unfortunately let that one slip to my Dad, and I know he'll be taking full advantage of that when we get snow at home. My outdoor winter skills in general are also now nearly impeccable, and I'm glad I got to use them one last time earlier today going outside with Kristin today for one last trip to the precipitation can (the before and after were documented).

So I leave here to go back to serving fajitas at minimum wage and begin studying for the dreaded GRE's with nothing but fond memories of an internship I know I won't forget. I couldn't imagine a better crew to have worked with, and I thank them for making this experience as great as it was. Stacey, Steve, Kristin and Mike have been nothing but helpful since day one and were always willing to share what they know. Of course, I can't forget Marty. Though we've had a love-hate relationship, I know he'll miss me (even if it's just because I give him treats). It's also been great finally working with people who, when you tell them someday you'd like to go out West and chase tornadoes, they get it instead of look at you like you're nuts (well, Steve still might considering the amount of girly music we've subjected him to). Not only have they been coworkers, but friends as well, which makes all the difference when you're working in the kind of environment the Observatory presents itself with. I wish them all nothing but the best!

Jennifer Finn – Summit Intern

15:43 Mon Dec 20th

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A snowier view than when my internship started

The Christmas festivities that Stacey and Mike spoke of earlier this week continued yesterday! Jen and I attempted to spread the Christmas cheer in the weather room with an old favorite, the construction paper chain. Last night, Charlie and Jeanine treated us to our own little holiday party filled with bacon wrapped scallops, red pepper jelly, spinach and artichoke dip, Swedish meatballs and a Christmas tree shaped cake with our own individual cake presents. Everything was delicious and it definitely felt like a Christmas feast! Stacey and Jen treated us to a little Christmas Concert and played the Christmas Carols they have been practicing for the last month (please see the November 22, 2010 obscast if you would like a taste of their musical abilities). I was also able to torture everyone with my favorite Christmas movie, 'Love Actually'. Even our shift Grinch sat through half of the movie after I told him there was a car crash. Little did he know that it was only a minor fender bender.

With only 2 days left as a Mount Washington Observatory intern, I sit here, looking out at the lovely Northern Presidentials reflecting over the last seven months. I was invited to visit the summit one Wednesday before I started my internship. After a giggly ride down the mountain, I remember a little chat I had with Ken Rancourt, our Director of Summit Operations. He asked if I was excited and ready for my internship to start. I said 'I'm so excited! It's going to be so much fun!' He quickly responded with 'It's not all fun, there's going to be a lot of hard work.' As soon as I started my internship, I realized we were both right, it was lots of fun but also lots of hard work. Like I said in my very first comment, interns do become jacks of all trades. From power washing and scraping the tower, learning how to do observations and relearning how to forecast to counting just about everything there is to count around here (paint cans, wires, shovels, plates, you name it, there is a good chance I counted it) and learning to walk around the summit without being blown over, all of it was hard, challenging work, but so much fun!

Now, as I prepare for the next step of life, finding a 'real job', I can only hope that the people I encounter in the future are as awesome and welcoming as the people I have met up here on the summit. I am a firm believer that you can enjoy anything, no matter how terrible or challenging, if you have a great group of people around you. The observers, my fellow interns, our summit museum supervisors, all the State Park Staff, all the volunteers, and all the Observatory visitors have helped to make my internship one of the greatest, most challenging and most memorable experiences of my life. So to each and every one of you, THANK YOU! And an extra special Thank You to Stacey, Mike C., Steve, Jen, Sabrina and Deb, Thank you for enriching my internship and teaching me so much. There is no one else I would want to be hysterically laughing with around a dinner table!

Kristin Raisanen – Summit Intern

23:36 Sun Dec 19th

Two weeks ago, Kristin wrote about Sundays being sunny. Once again, Sunday lives up to its name! After the Steve's first observation, he started telling me how beautiful it was outside. I immediately dressed for outside and went to check it out for myself.

I was not disappointed! Cool, crisp air of 6 degrees, nearly calm winds, and an undercast set the tone for my star-gazing experience. The undercast blocked a lot of the light pollution from the surrounding valleys and, like people who are obsessed with the weather, I looked up. A brilliant planet to the east quickly caught my eye and I was able to make out Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, and Cassiopeia.

I wish my night-time photography skills existed, because the view was spectacular and I know the website visitors would have enjoyed seeing something other than weather pictures. I also wish my macro photography skills existed. The snow that fell was fine, light, and looked like the decorative 'snow' used for the miniature winter villages. When I picked it up, I could see the individual flakes.

At least we have some pictures! Jen and Kristin were able to enjoy sunrise and an afternoon stroll today! It's a good thing they're getting a couple of good-weather days this week, since (as Mike mentioned) it will sadly be their last as interns. Thank you both for all of your hard work, dedication, and giggle fests!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer and Meteorologist

23:15 Sat Dec 18th

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A Festive Obs

With Christmas fast approaching, the mood on the summit has taken a much more festive tone. Our living quarters have been decorated with stockings, trimmings, lights, and even a pint-sized Christmas Tree with a tiny Santa to match (atop the TV). Our volunteers this week, Charlie and Jeanine, have provided us with a steady stream of sweet treats, which have kept all of our moods at a sugary high.

The weather outside is not quite frightful, however, as winds have been nothing short of feeble for the first half of this week, and only an inch or two of snow has fallen. After our memorable trek up amidst cold and snow on Wednesday, the weather has failed to impress. It looks to remain tranquil as well, with high pressure moving in for the next couple days. A few days ago, it looked as if New England could see its first major Nor'easter of the season. However, the low pressure area decided to take a path well out to sea, and the only effects it will grace us with are a few high clouds.

Even if the weather is not quite as severe as some of us would like it, a sunny, calm day with a summit blanketed in rime and over a foot of snow will probably provide a great opportunity for a sunrise and sunset viewing, and may even allow a few of us to get out for a hike!

With the week half over, we are also preparing to bid farewell to our summit interns, Jen and Kristin. Kristin has been with us since May, and Jen has been part of our shift since August. They have become familiar faces to us, on and off the summit, and we will miss their helping hands quite a bit (despite the giggling and singing that they additionally provide). Since this is most likely the last you'll be hearing from me this week, I'd like to say good luck to them, and Merry Christmas to the rest of you!

And what do I want for Christmas? A record-setting wind gust. That's all.

Mike Carmon – Staff Meteorologist

23:14 Fri Dec 17th

This week we have Charlie and Janine Kinney - long time veteran volunteers - on the rock pile with us. I had been preparing mentally for some time. I know their cooking style: decadent, delicious, and bountiful. Already we've been treated to fudge, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, pumpkin pie and cinnamon buns. Dinners have been just as good - delicious and nutritious.

In addition to feeding us into new dress sizes, they have also decked the halls, so to say, of the living room, making it much more festive! Lights are on the tree, stockings are hung (with care and away from Marty), and snowflakes dangle from the ceiling. Indoors, the Observatory is brimming with Christmas spirit (and what holiday would be complete without a resident 'Scrooge' saying 'Bah! Humbug!' at every turn - you know who you are!). Outside looks like a windswept winter wonderland: the white landscape constantly changing as the wind whips the snow into a frenzy. It's not exactly sleigh ride weather out there.

It is clear, but blowing snow and sub-zero temperatures make it a little uncomfortable and a bit more difficult to envision sugar plums dancing than if one were inside next to an open fire.

Well, it seems that I'm out of bad song puns, so until next time...Let it snow!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer and Meteorologist

16:26 Thu Dec 16th

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Undercast

Another week finishes on the summit for Mike and me; as always Brian, Ryan, Mike and soon to be returning to Seattle the summit's awesome intern Erica, were fabulous crew mates to serve with on the Good Ship Rockpile. We were also blessed to have with us for the second half of the shift Mike Conroy who was happy to employ Mike Zlogar to help put up the ceiling tiles in the crew living spaces. Due to the confined nature of the deck below, the atmosphere remained fairly untarnished by blue air as they renewed their geometry skills cutting trapezoids and the like for the tiles that didn't quite get the memo on perfect rectangles.

Weather-wise it was fairly sedate and consistent, fog and rain and snow. The joy of shoveling reached a new high for the public works department up here. A combined precip of 8 inches of snow saturated with 4 inches of water equivalent made for a scene right out of the landing of Noah's ark post flood. Shovels of all sizes, ordinary rock tools, ice picks and good old fashioned muscle made for fun mornings of aerobic activity. The entrance trench freshly dug for water removal, our good friend Mike Pelchat (that would be Mike #4 on this sift) arrived with the snowcat and rearranged some of the really fine mini-mountains at the mouth of the entrance we had left for him to reposition.

Mike and I prepared meals and treats that will not see their reincarnation at home because we would put on 20 lbs in a week if we did; but boy was it fun having the opportunity to create and share in the joy of eating and fellowship, calories be damned!

Our last day of weather was worth waiting for and having spent so much time inside we were all a bit sun deprived. We piled outside and like Alaskans after a long night we were positively giddy with the joy of a breath taking undercast , blue, blue skies above, that odd looking yellow star in the sky and rime ice art everywhere the eye could see and up here that was everywhere!!!

Thanks to all who made this time high in the sky our perfect Christmas gift. Marty and the crew wish you all a happy, healthy holiday season.

Sue And Mike Zlogar – Summit Volunteers

16:35 Wed Dec 15th

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Land Ho!

Winter shift changes are almost always more eventful than summer ones. True, there are no tourist vehicles on the road. But the dangers of snow, wind, freezing fog, and mechanical failures are much more daunting than a novice Auto Road traveler.

Today was the inaugural trip of our Snow Tractor for the Winter 2010-2011 season. This is personally my third winter working here, and it is the latest I've had to wait to take the premiere trek up the road in our Snow (not- technically-a-)Cat. But weather conditions on Wednesdays have been such that a truck and van with chains have been sufficient to make it to the top.

This was by no means the case this morning, as I pulled into the Maintenance Garage with snow steadily descending, a good 5-7' already blanketing the ground, and temperatures (at the base) hovering around 10 degrees. We loaded up the van and plunged onto the snowy road, making it up (by way of a few moments of 'controlled slipping') to just past the 2-mile mark to the 2-mile park, where our Tractor has been patiently waiting to spring into action for a number of weeks. We loaded our gear into the passenger cab, then rode the van up a little further, to just past the 3000 foot post, as road conditions did allow the van to cut through a bit longer. At this point, Wayne pulled up with the Tractor, and we all hopped in...

...But we didn't get far. After about a mile, or a little less, the Tractor came to a grinding halt. This is not too unusual, as very often the operator will pause for a brief moment or two while blading. However, when the air went quiet, and Wayne opened the back door and told us we needed to exit, that's when we were clued in that the situation had taken a negative turn. With subzero temperatures and light snow falling, we waited patiently as the two journeymen, Steve and Charlie (our volunteer), hoofed it down the Auto Road to the van, and then to retrieve a part needed at the Maintenance Garage.

We did our best to stay warm as we lingered somewhere just shy of halfway up the Auto Road as Wayne did a few meantime repairs. Because the passenger cab needed to be tilted back in order for work to be performed, seeking refuge inside was not an option. Instead, some of us did laps up and down a small bit of the road, while others chose in-place exercises to keep from icing up. But after a while, subzero temperatures and an established snow pack begin to take their toll. Toes were numbing up, noses were running frozen, and faces were more red than a Sunday newspaper. A joyous sight was seen nearly 90 minutes later as Steve and Charlie returned in the van, struggling to push its way through the snow piled up on the road like the Little Engine That Almost Could. After a brief installation, we all piled in to the Tractor once more, and headed for higher pastures.

Due to the plethora of newly fallen snow, and its light and fluffy nature, even modest wind speeds of 20-40 mph created near white-out conditions and heavy drifting above tree line. At one point, the Tractor tilted backwards at such a sharp angle that the passengers facing backwards got a little more familiar with the passengers facing forwards as the formers' were jolted into the ladders' seats. After leveling out in that direction, the Tractor began to tilt sideways as it attempted to cut through the formidable drifts of the infamous Cragway section. After a few moments that made us feel like we were on the deck of the sinking Titanic, we leveled off again, and the Tractor slowly trudged through the remaining two or so miles to the summit.

It was a harsh winter wonderland near the top, with heavy driven snow and a mercury flirting with ten below. At long last, around 12:30 p.m., we saw the long-anticipated sight of the ice-covered Observatory and radio towers. We made it...a little later, a little colder, and much hardier than when we left the base at 8:30 a.m. It was a memorable journey, and I'm sure we'll be making similar memories (although hopefully on warmer days) as the winter unfolds.

Mike Carmon – Staff Meteorologist

22:20 Tue Dec 14th

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Snow Angel on Mount Washington

While the rest of the valley had overcast skies, the summits were in the clear, who would have known! We concluded our work week with a fantastic sunset followed by a spectacular view of the Geminid meteor shower.

This will be my last comment as an intern. Yep, you guessed it, I'm going to get a little wordy and mushy. Although this experience will be a great start to my future as a meteorologist, it is still heartbreaking knowing that it has come to an end so fast. I came with an open mind and ready to learn. Many things were new to me; weather patterns on east coast, de-icing, rime ice, performing hourly observations and so much more. I learned them all and enjoyed every bit of it.

Upon graduating from college I had no idea what area of meteorology I wanted to pursue. I jumped into this internship eager, but also nervous that I would fail, not do well, or be completely lost in my surroundings. Those nerves were proven wrong within the first couple weeks. As an intern with Mount Washington Observatory you are exposed to several tasks/jobs that give you a taste of what it's like to be a meteorologist on a variety of levels. Observations, outlooks/forecasts, wx summaries, radio broadcasts, basic maintenance are just a few of the many exciting things I was able to take part in. No questions asked, being here has helped point me in the right direction and assured me that I have chosen the right field. Can't say it enough-I love weather and predicting it.

I have a little advice to those who are graduating or will be in the future and are still trying to figure out what you want to do. Be patient and doors will open. Make the best of everything-you make things what they are.

Last but not least, everyone that I worked with at Mount Washington Observatory and all the volunteers I met during my internship, THANK YOU for making this a great and rewarding experience. And of course my crew- Brian, Ryan, and Mike; I don't think I could have learned as much as I did from any other group of people.

Erica Sandschulte – Summit Intern

17:44 Mon Dec 13th

The weather on the summit over the last couple of days has gotten me thinking about how it's funny (not so much in a 'haha' sort of way) the way my attitude towards the weather changes along with the seasons. Although I pay a good deal of attention to the weather and current weather patterns year-round, during the non-skiing months (known as summer, and part of each shoulder season to most folks) I don't watch the long range nearly as much as I do during the skiing months. More importantly, I don't get upset when I see rain or unseasonably warm temperatures coming during the non-skiing months. Sure, there are exceptions to this if, for example, I've planned a weekend to do some paddling on the Saco. During the skiing months however, I genuinely get frustrated with our dear friend Mother Nature when, for example, it pours rain and is in the mid 30's in the middle of December like it did last night.

In these situations, I try to take an 'it is what it is' sort of approach, as I do with a lot of things in life. I also tend to be a realist, and the reality of the situation is that I live in New England, and sometimes it rains in the middle of winter in New England. Maybe someday I'll live in a place that it snows reliably all winter long.

In the mean time, cold air has returned to the summit and so the snow that I love so dearly. We should continue to see on-and-off snowfall over the next few days, and hopefully that will make the memories of this latest warm, wet storm fade quickly as we move into the heart of the winter season on the mountain.

Observer note: Also as we move more into winter, so too do we move into EduTrip and DayTrip season! If you've always wanted to experience Mount Washington during its most extreme, and most beautiful time of year, these trips are your chance. Don't forget about our very special New Year's Eve EduTrip. There are only a few spots still available for that trip, so act fast!

Brian Clark – Observer and Meteorologist

17:09 Sun Dec 12th

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Yes, finally I have the purrr-fect opportunity to get in a few words before the holidays are in full swing. Everyone here on the summit has been busy hard at work, but I, Marty, always manage to push my way in to grab attention from the crew up here. No better way to let them know I wanted to paw in a comment by running across the keyboard as Erica and Mike typed away at their work yesterday. This past weekend the crew started hanging lovely Christmas wreaths that were graciously donated to us, not only do they look wonderful, but they accent the weather room purr-fectly.

Things have been great around here. Winter is in full force on the Rockpile and I have been feeling incredible with all the rest, attention, and fine food that my crew members provide for me. Every once in awhile, I will charge in on Brian while he rocks out to Rock Band in the new Observer Lounge; it is a fine place to relax and hang out after a long day of work. Well my fellow fans, I will be back in weeks time filling you in on the life of a cat here on the summit! Happy Holidays!

Marty – Summit Cat

21:48 Sat Dec 11th

This week has been filled with a number of firsts, however disjointed they may be. Erica brewed espresso cold at home and brought it to the mountain for the week. It has been staring at me in the fridge for the week, but not being a huge coffee drinker (or even coffees of regular size), I've let it be. Mentioning I was thirsty, she suggested she make me a cold brew latte. I thought this a good idea, but wondered what it was. Some cold brew, a few ice cubes, and a bit of milk later and I was drinking my first one.

The other night I had another first as I was searching through my duffel bag side pocket. I was searching for sunglasses, which I found, but also came upon dental floss. Now, I am a huge fan of teeth brushing. Sometimes I will even brush my teeth on the couch. Well, I will sit on the couch while I brush my teeth with a toothbrush. I don't actually brush them on the couch. It's just that the couch is much more comfortable than standing and results in a good, thorough cleaning. Having found the floss though, I figured I would try it out. It wasn't nearly as scary as I though it would be. Now I just have to keep it up - do one thing right, one time, then do it again.

Since I seem to be working myself backwards through time, I will continue with that trend, bringing us to Thursday. At the time, I didn't know the following had occurred. I actually just found out about it a couple hours ago, but it is just wonderful news. My very good friend, Tim, set foot back in Vermont for the first time since January. He has been stationed over in Afghanistan since that time with the Vermont National Guard, helping to keep his friends and fellow Guardsmen safe so they can return home to their friends and family. I will be so happy to see him during my next offweek, but will also remember those who did not return to see their families and those who cannot hug their 'Tim'.

The final first, which is actually the first first temporally, deals with music. I ended up buying the new Gaelic Storm album last offweek and was listening to it during my drives to and from places. One of the fiddle riffs struck me in such a way as to lend itself to a reggae backbeat. I played this, then played a riff similar to the fiddle I had heard. I could hear it in my head, but couldn't play them together on one harmonica at the same time, so I had to wait until I got up here on Wednesday to record them and put them together. I did this, and although the method was rather crude, it did work. This was the first time I had looped and layered music together into one track and was quite pleased with the results. And now onto the wonders of loop stations...

Mike Finnegan – IT Observer

18:06 Fri Dec 10th

Dear Santa-

Boy, time flies, doesn't it? Another year has passed and I have once again been put in charge of writing to you with our Observatory Christmas List. And like always, I have all my bases covered for getting a letter to you. Last month, I sent a hand written note to you. Last shift I sent you an email with our list as well as a preliminary New Hampshire forecast for Christmas (it still looks like it'll be a snowy one). And now this shift, I am sending you our list via our Observer Comments since I know you follow them daily to check if we have been naughty or nice boys and girls.

Once again, in my opinion, we all have been good lil' boys and girls. We have acted kindly to all our interns, guests, friends, families and pets. Even Marty, our cat, has been acting abnormally nice. He must know you're coming with your special blend of Christmas cat nip. And he is slowly warming up to people so unlike the first time you guys met back in 2008 when he was easily spooked and went into hiding, this time he might come out and brush up against when you arrive.

When you arrive, you will find things a bit different as far as color goes as we have painted the tower as well as the upstairs and downstairs of our section of the Sherman Adams building. And we are getting new ceiling tiles installed. Hopefully they will all be in place by the time you arrive. But no worries, although things might look different aesthetically, everything else remains the same so you should have no trouble sneaking in and out and finding your way around the summit.

So once again, if it's not too much trouble, could you get us one or more of the following:

1. Observatory Memberships - Not for the observers but for other boys and girls on your list around the world. Since we are membership supported, these gifts would be the gifts that keep giving over the year. And since I know you have a sweet tooth, this year, when you give a gift membership, you receive a box of Van Otis Chocolates for you and the misses to enjoy (or re-gift if you choose).

2. Gift Donations - This will help lighten your bag of toys and help us out in the long term.

3. Edutrips - Again, not for the observers but for the other boys and girls on your list around the world. This gives us the gift of funding and in return, someone on your list gets the opportunity to stay and learn on top of the northeast's highest peak. And since I know you and the misses anniversary is around this time, you might want to reserve a spot on the special New Years trip we have planned. You stop by here every year in a rush so why not spend the night up here after the holidays and get to know us a bit better. There are only four spots left and I know we would love to have the two of you as guests for the night.

4. LLBean clothing - To keep us warm and toasty. Just remember to keep it synthetic or wool as cotton kills, but I am sure you know what we need living so far north. Also, if you plan on using LL Bean for gifts for others on your list, if you use the link I provided, a percentage of your purchase will go towards helping us out as well.

5. Office Supplies - We work like an office, so anything you can send that will cut costs for us is great: mechanical pencils, refill lead, pens, printer paper, etc. The only exception is Post-it Note pads since last year you went a bit overboard with these.

6. Batteries - Preferably AAA, AA or D's as our headlamps, flashlights and rescue/research equipment use these.

7. Gift cards - We go shopping for food weekly at Hannaford, Shaw's or Walmart but Lowes, Home Depot, or anywhere else in North Conway is fine. Well, you know what's here.

8. Sporting Equipment - Can you ever have enough sporting equipment? I think topping this list is foam sporting equipment so we can play safely indoors, especially a Poof Soccer Ball. As you may remember from past Observer Comments, we love playing indoor soccer and a Poof ball would lower the risk of injuries and breaking things. But we will take any kind of sports 'toys.'

9. Calendars - We need at least one to keep track of the days up here. Nature scenes or humorous ones are preferred. Plus, if you buy it from our online shop, it gives us a calendar and financial support (two birds, one stone).

10. Board Games - To keep us entertained as a group from time to time. We already love playing Cranium, Apples to Apples, Things, Scrabble, and Loaded Questions. So if you know of any others like these, I know we'd love them. The more offbeat, the better it seems.

11. Books - Preferably popular ones and I know most of us up here would say NO romance novels.

12. Sleds - preferably the long toboggan type that run for about $10-20 bucks since it doesn't take much for a rock to tear these apart.

13. Candles - Preferably the soy-based, large jar type or tumblers like the ones from Soyfire for example. They liven up our living quarters and make it feel more like home.

14. Candy and gum - Since I know you eat a lot of cookies and sweets, I know you can relate. Can we ever really have enough?

15. Snow - the more the better! Especially since November was so dry.

16. Surprise us again! - Sometimes the coolest gifts are the ones you didn't think you needed.

That's about it Santa. Remember that we don't mind second hand items so long as they are in good, clean and usable condition. This helps out the environment and extends the life on perfectly usable stuff. We are really not picky and are just thankful for anything. Also, if you want a particular type of cookie and drink, like last year, you can post your preferences in our forums. We will try once again to keep the plate full, but you've had our volunteers cooking, it's hard to pass up sometimes; so delicious.

Since it will be my shift up for Christmas this year, I will ensure that everything is in order for your arrival: a clear deck and path to the door, well greased doors, deiced stairs, clean living quarters, decorated Christmas tree, and a full plate of cookies next to a glass of milk/nog/soy (but not Soy Nog, that's just gross). And I will keep you posted on the forecast leading up to and on the night of your arrival. Travel safe and see you then.

Thanks and Happy Holidays-

Ryan Knapp – Staff Meteorologist

16:22 Thu Dec 9th

If it hasn't been obvious from comments you read here or by looking at the current conditions or webcams, let me assure you, winter has set in on the summit. Finally. In fact as I write this, the air temperature is at a chilly -10 F. Last night's low was -11 F, the coldest reading so far this winter season. Yesterday's average temperature of -7 F was 19 degrees below the average for December 8.

Somewhat at these temperatures, but more so at temperatures below -20 F, the first breath you take after walking outside has a very distinct feeling; it feels somewhat labored, kind of like trying to breath with your head hanging out of a car window. As crazy as this will sounds to some of you out there (my girlfriend included), I love that feeling. I also love the sound the the snow and rime makes beneath my feet at these temperatures. You know, that very distinct crunching noise.

Tonight may be even colder than last night, but then we will see temperatures rise into the weekend as a big storm approaches. Exactly what type of precipitation we see from this system is still a bit up in the air (no pun intended), but it does at least appear that it will be all frozen or freezing precipitation here on the summit. Personally, I'm hoping that the center of the storm heads a little further east than currently forecasted, so that we end up with all snow!

Brian Clark – Observer and Meteorologist

17:39 Wed Dec 8th

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Us on the summit

I am the current volunteer on the summit with my friend, Sue. This is our first time spending a week in winter, and we have been thoroughly enjoying our time here watching the changes in the weather from the comfort of the Observatory building and from outside getting blown about with strong winds. We hope to return next winter if they'll have us again.

Yesterday, we got to experience going up in the parapet with Stacey while she chipped the ice off the pito tube on the anemometer. I stood at the very top where she was standing and felt the full force of the wind holding me while I leaned into it. It was quite a rush, I have to say! The visibility hasn't been very good since the undercast on Sunday When there were clear skies above and around us, but it wasn't a white-out either so we decided to walk down to the trailer that houses the extreme sewage treatment plant. Jim, of the State of NH Parks, gave us an explanation of how the plant works that services the Observatory and the State facility. It is an amazing system that is quite high tech and complicated with a series of tanks and pipes that the effluent has to go through before it comes out as water that won't harm the environment. It is housed in a trailer that is about 40 feet long just below the summit. We were quite impressed and pleased to know that the water that we used will come out clean and help the surrounding plants with their need for moisture.

The Observers here and the interns are a very dedicated, hard-working crew who do whatever it takes to keep this facility running smoothly to provide the weather services with the data they need to do the forecasting. This past week is an example of how they had to be flexible with a painter painting the walls and heaters, then 2 electricians doing rewiring; lots of noise, fumes and furniture rearranging and cleaning. But they take it all in stride and keep on with their jobs. We were glad to be a part of it for even just a week.

Betsy Fowler – Summit Volunteer

18:37 Tue Dec 7th

The day after Thanksgiving, as far back as I can remember, was always the beginning of the Christmas season. That's when it is ok to play Christmas carols, to decorate your house, and start baking sinfully delicious cookies. It's also time to start shopping!

I give those willing to endure the lines on Black Friday kudos; I have absolutely no patience for lines. My shopping is fairly limited to a few precious weeks, unless something inspired me months before (that has happened on a few occasions). The invention of online shopping has made the holidays so much easier. Instead of waiting in lines and rummaging through overstocked clothing racks and stepping over under-supervised children, I can spend more time doing the aforementioned activities.

For those of you who are weather enthusiasts or know a weather enthusiast (and if you are visiting this website, chances are you like weather) a really great place for some online shopping is the weather store. We have lots of weather stations, educational toys (what kid doesn't want to build his or her own robot?), and a plethora of Mount Washington memorabilia. If you really want to impress the weather nerd in your life, you can always sign them up for one of our overnight Edu-trips, where you can experience the amazing weather first-hand.

Speaking of shopping, I better get started!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer and Meteorologist

13:38 Mon Dec 6th

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fun with light

Yesterday was great. As Kristin mentioned, we had sun, an undercast, and a persistent fog-bow. One of my favorite views was from the top of the parapet. You can see the fog like a gossamer sheet blanketing the summit buildings. The fog-bow was pretty sweet as well.

Going up to the parapet for some pictures inspired my afternoon task. The strong sun, light winds, and warm temperatures were the perfect combination for a little bit of parapet de-icing. After the glaze and rime, it was pretty messy up there with not much room for maneuverability. Armed with an ice chipper, crowbar, shovel, Kristin's i-pod, and a burning desire to be rid of the nuisance ice, I took to the tower.

I apologize to the innocent bystanders who may have inadvertently been subjected to my singing, but after 2 hours of hacking, chipping, shoveling, and dancing (I mean, with music in my ears and a shovel being the perfect dance partner, how could I not?) the parapet and tower were much cleaner.

Sunset was perfectly serene; it was so quiet you could hear the whisper-soft crunch of rime underfoot. The sun sank beneath the bank of clouds, but not before shining through one of the radio towers like the ball of fire it really is.

Today is exciting for a different reason; it's snowing, and it's going to stay cold. That means the snow might actually stick around for awhile, as opposed to our shift notoriously melting all the snow by Wednesday. Maybe this off week I'll get to break out my snowboard!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer and Meteorologist

15:14 Sun Dec 5th

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A sunny summit!

For our last 3 shift weeks, Sunday has really lived up to its name. During our mostly cloudy weeks, it always seems that Sunday is the day when the clouds break and we see the sun making the day aptly named Sun-day. Today was no different.

This morning I was shocked to hear we were mostly in the clear and that the sunrise would be visible. When I looked at the forecast last night the possibility of seeing a sunrise this week seemed slim, but there it was, sunrise. In fact, Mike, our staff meteorologist, forecasted for cloudy skies and snow showers today. I'm honestly kind of glad he was wrong. Other than the temporary break from the fog for about 30 minutes on Thursday, we have been in the fog since we arrived on Wednesday. Last week was very similar. We started our week and were in the fog until Sunday for the sunrise.

Due to the lack of Vitamin D in my mountain life, I opted for a little photo-tour this morning so I could soak in some of the sun. The coating of ice and snow on the summit looked lovely against the bright blue sky. We had a pretty thick layer of undercast that kept the valley cloudy and did not allow for any beautiful mountain views up here on the summit, but the lingering fog just below the summit allowed for a consistent fog bow to be present and even visible on the North view webcam (it's the bright strip). Jen and I even decided it was a great day to take a stroll down the auto road to bask in the sun a little. Though the sun will leave us and the fog and snow showers roll back in a little later tonight, it was nice while it lasted.

Kristin Raisanen – Summit Intern

13:53 Sat Dec 4th

Whistling while you work definitely makes working (shoveling) a lot more fun. The famous seven dwarves really knew how to motivate people. Christmas music has been blaring out of our speakers since Wednesday, which means Christmas songs were on our mind for our morning shoveling routine! Kristin, Jen, and I began with an off-key, obnoxiously loud rendition of Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas. We continued in the A-frame by starting a lot of tunes; we didn't finish many. That's when we decided to come up with an Observatory-themed The 12 Days of Christmas.

Poor Steve. When he ventured outside to perform the hourly weather observation, he walked into our creative process. We had just gotten to the 'FIVE GOOOOOOOLD RINGS!' part of the song.

A lot of thought and enthusiastic singing went into this list! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

To the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas

12 crowbars smashing
11 hikers hiking
10 cogs a-climbing
9 Marty's purring
8 members cooking
7 Slings-a slinging
6 observers observing
5 ICE CHIPPERS!!!
4 precip cans
3 interns
2 thermometers
And a pitot tube in the parapet!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer and Meteorologist

14:08 Fri Dec 3rd

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As promised, we're keeping you updated on our progress on dealing with all the ice on the summit. Steve and our volunteers did a great job yesterday getting most of the ice off of the A-frame. They spent a good amount of time using a mallet to whack huge chunks of it off and move them out of the way so we can walk through. Some ice chipping has also been done to make a clearer path through the A-frame. The door to the observation deck is a whole lot lighter now that it has been deiced as well. I wish I could say we've removed more ice from the parapet, but unfortunately I can't. What ice is still in place, not only in the parapet but elsewhere too, is solid as a rock and nearly impossible to remove.

The ice may be fun for us to see in all its cool formations, however it certainly is not as nice for you folks to see on our webcams! That being said, Kristin and I spent some time today removing the thin coating of ice blocking the Observatory Deck camera. We had to put an extension pole on our snow rake to be able to reach the camera in the first place, and then it became a matter of directing each other where to move the rake. If you did happen to look at the webcam while we were in the process of deicing, you just may have seen us! It took some time and a few good-humored jokes to finally remove the ice off the window and give you all a real-time view of what really looks like another world out on the deck.

Though we were able to remove the ice from this webcam, the North and the West view cameras are not as easy for us to tackle. Because of their locations, they are not only hard to get to, but there is also a more significant amount of ice that has built up and actually requires a heat gun to remove. So know that we are doing the best we can to take care of the ice up here on the Rockpile, and we thank you for your patience with the webcams!

Jennifer Finn – Summit Intern

14:31 Thu Dec 2nd

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Let the fun begin!

Happy December Everyone! We arrived at the summit yesterday to freezing rain and the most significant glazing event our shift has ever seen! During a normal icing event, we try to remove the large chunks of ice before they fall off the building and onto someone's head. This time, temperature was forecast to stay cold and the ice built up far too quickly to even pretend to keep up with it! We decided to wait until winds calmed, and temperatures cooled. I avoided going outside yesterday. Thank you Steve, Mike, Jen, and Kristin for making that possible.

When Steve told me it was a complete mess outside, I believed him. However, I did not fully comprehend the extent of the mess. Maybe mess isn't even the correct word. The phrase 'ankle-breaking boulder-sized ice everywhere' might be more accurate. I first went up to the parapet, which was interesting. The way the ice formed, it was pretty much impossible for anyone to climb through. Inside the parapet was like an igloo. If I sat down, I was fairly warm and completely protected from the wind. The A-frame actually reminded me of a cave, with the rime built upon the glaze looking like dogtooth spar and cave coral and stalactite-like formations coming off the building.

After over two hours of moving ice, one can actually enter the parapet the normal way, though the ice is still a little out of control. The sounds of a mallet hitting ice are reverberating through the building as Steve and the volunteers undertake the A-frame. We'll keep you updated on our progress!

Stacey Kawecki – Observer and Meteorologist

16:15 Wed Dec 1st

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Flying a kite on the observation deck

We are still experiencing significant glaze icing, which may knock out our Internet access. If website updates do not occur for a time, this is the reason and we'll get it back and running as soon as possible. Trust us - we want Internet access as much as you do!

Today, Wednesday is our shift change day. Our crew will be heading down the Mountain and the alternating crew will arrive for another exciting week of weather. I must say, this past week was awesome. The weeks seem to get better with each trip up; snow returned the higher elevations and we were able to get a beautiful sunset. Winds decreased on Monday so I took this opportunity to go fly a kite on the end of the observation deck! When I was on the deck during this time weather conditions were as follows: 24 degrees, winds were form the west at 11mph, visibility 120 miles...perfect kite flying conditions on the Rockpile.

One of my goals this week was to get the full synoptic coding down without any mistakes or hesitations. Needless to say, I had a couple mistakes and some hesitations. Synoptics are observations performed every 6 hours and coded in METAR. They are done just like any other observation, but with more information. Thanks to my co-workers (who are there to check my work) gave me an extra push in the right direction. I have fog observations down. But when the summit is in the clear, with several cloud layers, and past weather being coded with nasty rain and/or snow, are the observations I just need a few more to carry out before I have them down!

If you know me, then you know I love forecasting and doing observations. Both of which are fulfilling to me. Being a recent graduate, I am still learning trends in the weather. Traveling around to different and experiencing different climates has helped me learn weather patterns across the US. It has been a great experience so far and I wouldn't trade it for anything. In my future as a meteorologist, I do plan on traveling to gain more understanding in weather; in my opinion, you can't learn it unless you experience it ;)

Thinking back to my first week here on the summit, I remember being filled with so much excitement I wanted to learn and understand everything in the first few days. After shadowing an observation I recall saying, 'I'll be able to have this down by the end of this week!' Brian, being practical replied with a smile, 'Umm no, it will take much longer than that.' And yes, it did. I am glad that it did, it reminded me to be patient with my work while taking one step at a time, and to use what you have.

If you are into atmospheric sciences, then you know that this is almost impossible to learn in one week; there are too many factors that go into meteorology or forecasting to be more specific to learn the trends, models, air flow, and mountain weather to fully recognize in one day...let alone one week. To become a great meteorologist it takes experience with different climates, must have patience, and a constant willingness to learn because things up here are ever changing.

Erica Sandschulte – Summit Intern

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