Underwrite our website for a day! Learn how.
Join Email List
 

Observer Comments

July 2012

10:01 Tue Jul 31st

photo - see caption below
Clouds in the Great Gulf

This shift week started off with rain. For the most part, the summit was stuck in the clouds through Saturday, with a whopping 1.3" of rain dumped on the peak. Luckily, this didn't last the whole week and we cleared up for Sunday, allowing for some pretty stellar hiking weather.

Despite being in the clear, clouds remained around the summit with some tall cumulous building up all around us. One particular bank was stuck in the Great Gulf, unable to lift itself over the Northern Presidentials. This is where I took my hike, interested in getting a closer look at this cloud to see just how far down the valley it went. Wanting some additional company for this trek, I grabbed a hiking partner: Marty the cat.

Initially he didn't seem too thrilled as I carried him outside to the start of the trail. I put him down right outside of the observatory figuring he wanted to return to his all-important napping as quickly as possible. I greatly underestimated him. Once I started hiking down the trail towards the Gulf I heard a jingling behind me and sure enough, there was our mascot prancing down the path to catch up. I've seen a lot of dogs as hiking partners but never a cat and I got a lot of curious looks as we marched down the summit cone. Marty seemed pretty excited with this change from his daily routine. He would frequently sprint ahead, turning around to make sure I was still following. Many times he ventured off the path for some quick exploring under some of the bigger rocks; most likely searching for a mouse.

This cheerful attitude however, didn't last long. Soon enough he was falling behind, voicing his complaints through incessant meowing. I tried to convince him we were close to the end of the hike but he wasn't having it: stubbornly stopping on the trail. After a bit of arguing back and forth, it was clear that we weren't going to agree on which way to go. Going our separate ways Marty scurried back up to the summit while I continued my hike to the Gulf to admire the developing clouds.

After I got my fill of views into the valley I headed back up to the observatory. I got back only to see Marty back to his lazy self, asleep on the couch without a care in the world. I tried explaining everything he missed out on, but clearly he was more than satisfied with his decision to nap. Maybe next time he'll better appreciate the joys of hiking.

Don't forget: Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7pm we are hosting research scientist Seth Campbell at the Weather Discovery Center for a free discussion about radio waves. Learn how cell phones, TV and radio transmit signals at the fourth installation of our 2012 Science in the Mountains lecture series.

Steve Harshman – Summit Intern

06:41 Tue Jul 31st

Being a middle school science teacher from Rhode Island, I have been waiting all year to spend a week on the highest peak in New England. Coming from a state that is basically at sea level (our highest point is a hill at 812 feet above sea level), I am continually amazed at the beauty, size and grandeur of this spectacular mountain range.

Spending time with this amazing summit crew is both a personal and professional privilege. With each passing day, I have had the pleasure of watching these dedicated individuals studying weather phenomenon on a peak that carries the slogan, 'Home of the World's Worst Weather'. Although we have not had any weather that can rival historical storms of the past, we have had a little bit of everything over the last few days. From wispy clouds to pea soup fog, drizzle turning to heavier rain, moderate gusty winds dropping to windless sunny days and to beautiful clear nights, I have had the opportunity to witness the ever changing weather conditions on the summit. Saturday evening even produced a beautiful light show as we could easily see fireworks from a distant NH town.

Witnessing the weather up here, first hand, is why I wanted to spend a week volunteering. I feel that I am able to share so much with my students of things that I experience, instead of things that we read about or see in a video. I will have the pleasure to telling them about this amazing summit crew and the important work that they do. An image on a radar screen may tell you that a storm is approaching; looking out the weather station windows to SEE the actual cloud wall approaching is something that I will never forget. The weather observers, summit interns and the museum director have all made me feel that I am part of the crew and have made my adjusted that much easier. I can never thank them enough. Well, in one way I can. Part of my job is to help prepare dinner for the entire crew. This is the one time of the day when we all sit together to share stories, banter back and forth, answer questions from inquisitive middle school science teachers and to simply enjoy each other's' company.

The summit of Mt Washington is a spectacular place to visit, study and live. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work here as a Summit Volunteer and I can only hope that I am fortunate enough to return, both in the summer and in the winter season.

Adam Scott – Summit Volunteer

06:49 Mon Jul 30th

Trying to plan out your week? Don't forget to block off time to attend this week's Science in the Mountains at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway. Wednesday, August 1st at 7pm Seth Campbell will be giving his presentation on Radio Waves Over Rough Terrain. Find out why you may have cell signal in one location but move 10 feet and drop your call. Be sure not to miss out on our remaining Science in the Mountain programs every Wednesday this summer.

August 8: Research Projects at Tin Mountain Conservation Center

August 15: Surficial Geology of Mount Washington & The Presidential Range

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:55 Sat Jul 28th

photo - see caption below
First Glimpse

There are numerous things, that as interns we help with. In the morning doing the AMC weather radio call, helping out with observations, writing and recording the afternoon forecast as well as giving tours to members who would like to see what we do and how we live. Another job that we do here on the summit is helping run the museum and gift shop.

In the mornings looking out the window we see the untouched view before the first cog comes into sight. As it makes its steady trudge up the slop we watch as the wind plays with the rising plumes of smoke. Upon makings its final push up the summit cone it lets out the signature whistle that can be heard through the observatory announcing its arrival. With its arrival the real day begins, the flood of people making their way inside to the museum and rotunda fills the air with chatter. The first whistle also signifies the potential for interested members wondering what goes on behind the entrance rope. When working in the museum it brings with it the potential for interesting conversations and stories with all ages. Along with the first whistle of the day signifying the beginning, the last whistle brings with it the end of the day. As the cog makes its way down the mountain the summit cleaning and restocking takes place before dinner and another day begins.

Emanuel Janisch – Summit Intern

17:20 Fri Jul 27th

photo - see caption below
Photo by Observer Ryan Knapp

Living and working on the summit of Mount Washington can be very rewarding. We see incredible views, high winds, cold temperatures, and visitors from all over the world. But what do we see at night? Well on a clear night when we can see the stars the night sky is something incredible. With the limited light pollution from the surrounding areas we are able to capture a spectacular sky. Pictures from our photo journal show some of the night sky that has been captured.

Last week right before Seek the Peak Observer Ryan Knapp set his camera up outside to capture the night sky from an hour after sunset to an hour before sunrise. He compiled these pictures together to make a video that shows the star trails through the night. You can view the video on our YouTube channel and can read more in the description of this video on how Ryan was able to compile this video from the pictures he took. Pictures will also follow next week when Ryan returns to the summit.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

22:44 Wed Jul 25th

Looking for a unique summertime adventure?

Interested in Mt. Washington, and want to learn more?

How about a gift for the upstart meteorologist in the family?

Our MWO Summit Adventures bring you to the top of Mt. Washington, where you'll get to experience the home of the world's worst weather firsthand!

While up on the summit, you'll experience two worlds: inside the Observatory, where the weather observers live and work for eight days at a time, and outside, where said observers witness and record the infamous weather conditions that have given Mt. Washington its daunting reputation.

Reservations are first-come, first-served, so don't hesitate! You could miss your opportunity to spend a night atop the northeast and amidst some of the most fleeting-yet-consistently-recorded weather conditions on Earth!

For more information on the MWO Summit Adventures, check out the following link. We hope to see you on the summit soon!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

22:39 Tue Jul 24th

After many, many weeks of anticipation, another volunteer week is quickly coming to an end. Weather on the summit this week has run the gamut from mild temperatures with almost non-existent winds to an extreme lightning and thunder show and winds exceeding 80 mph Monday night into Tuesday. In between our duties on the summit, Mark (the other volunteer) and I managed to squeeze in a hike over to Mt. Clay. For a couple of old timers (our combined age is 110+), we managed to get over and back in pretty good time. We even succeeded in stopping a number of times to contemplate the geologic events necessary and to marvel at the views that we were afforded.

This week marks the fifth time that I've been on the summit for MWO's Seek the Peak annual hike-a-thon. The first time was a result of being a "teacher extern" for the summer and I was asked to assist in baking cookies for the Seek the Peak hikers. Since that first occurrence, I've volunteered purposefully to be one of the volunteers on the summit to bake to my heart's content. This year, we baked over the course of two days, seven different varieties of cookies for a grand total of 817 cookies, surpassing last year's count of 711 by 106.

Having the opportunity to interact with hikers supporting MWO while being on the summit and in kitchen as a part of "Seek the Peak" is heartwarming. It's always amazing to see the number of people who are eager to assist the Mount Washington Observatory in meeting its mission. STP hikers raised $250, 000 this year, surpassing last year's efforts by $55,000. WOW!

I need to express my appreciation to Ryan, Roger, Brian, Anthony, Adam, and Chris for sharing your MWO life and experiences with me. Each one of you adds a unique perspective to the summit experience. Until the next time, thank-you!

Observer Footnote: Tomorrow, (or tonight, depending on when you read this), July 25th, our third presentation of the "Science in the Mountains: A Passport to Science" series will be given at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway, NH. The topic this week: The Alpine Zone. Join Mount Washington Observatory Weather Observer and Education Specialist, Rebecca Scholand, as she takes you on a journey to a strange and distant land, where temperatures fall well below freezing, winds whip at hurricane force and even trees cannot survive. And, believe it or not, this land exists right in your own backyard at the top of Mount Washington! Learn about the specialized technology we use to study this unique environment, and discover what forms of life (other than us) call this place home. The program begins at 7pm and the best part is, it is FREE! More information on the series can be found here: http://www.mountwashington.org/education/science_in_the_mountains/and directions to the Weather Discovery Center can be found here: http://www.mountwashington.org/education/center/.

Dennis Vienneau – Summit Volunteer

00:39 Tue Jul 24th

This evening, a very impressive and strong line of thunderstorms moved through New England, hitting Mount Washington just after dinner time. As the line moved within about 30 miles of the mountain, fog cleared off for a time, which allowed the crew to witness an impressive lightning show, with a veritable mix of cloud to ground, cloud to cloud, and in cloud lightning strikes. Both intern Chris and my fellow observer Ryan tried to snap a few photos of the lightning.

As the line got closer, fog returned but the natural light show continued. Generally speaking this was one of the most impressive lines of storms that I had seen hit the mountain during the last 5+ years that I have spent on Mount Washington, and I know that Ryan, who has been here even longer than I have, would also agree.

Unfortunately, I don't have a camera capable of capturing events like this, so I will just have to hope that Ryan and Chris captured something to share you, our fans, here in the Observer Comments and on our page on Facebook!

Brian Clark – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

18:29 Sun Jul 22nd

photo - see caption below
Ken gets a few gifts for a little fun in the sun

Yesterday was the climax of many months of planning and hard work to make Seek the Peak come off with flying colors. You couldn't ask for better weather with warm temperatures, dry conditions and low winds.

At the Summit several hundred hikers consumed over 800 homemade cookies and enjoyed tours of the Observation area, Instrument Tower and living quarters. Marty even stopped by a couple of times to say "hi" when he wasn't chasing a chipmunk or sleeping from all of the exercise.

This year we also had our Annual Meeting during the After Party giving all of the attendees a high quality, inside look at everything we do.

Seek the Peak has grown to become a destination sporting event - "The nation's premier hiking event" sponsored by Mount Washington Observatory.

Our new Directory of Research Eric Kelsey got to see firsthand how we function and can bring such a large event together. Our new Director of Summit Operations Cyrena Briede was also introduced via photos. Both of these individuals will be officially starting with the Observatory the first full week of August.

Our current Director of Summit Operations Ken Rancourt will be retiring in the fall and was given a few items including a grass skirt, shades, flip flops, Hawaiian shirt and lei so that he and wife Jane can spend a little time in the sun.

Roger Pushor – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

18:21 Sat Jul 21st

photo - see caption below
A collage of some of the scenes from the day.

Today is July 21st, which is this year's date for our annual fundraiser, Seek the Peak. Since I am writing this at 4 pm, I don't have any final numbers to talk about like how many people sought the peak, how many people passed through the Observatory, what our fundraising total is, and so on. By the time I woke up this afternoon around 1 EST, most of the days activities were winding down and visitors were starting to depart so they could get down in time for dinner and our after party. So to me, the day didn't seem that busy, but everyone that I talked to, they begged to differ by the time they all headed down for the dinner and after party. Usually, I get to head down and participate in the dinner and after party festivities too, but for the first time in my 6+ years here, I have had to miss the festivities. Oh well, next year maybe?

Now, Seek the Peak means something differently to each individual organizing it, volunteering at it, or participating by hiking it. But for me, I like to think of Seek the Peak like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and a reunion all wrapped up in one. Let me explain. Seek the Peak is like Christmas because it happens around the same time every year, so we can mark it on our calendars and then eagerly anticipate it. Bags of gifts and goodies are wrapped up and prepared to hand out to everyone participating with even more goodies to give away at the after party. We prepare (over 800 of which were prepared this year) and put out trays of cookies for those stopping by. And on the day, we eagerly await the arrival of all the festivities that come with the special day.

Seek the Peak is like Thanksgiving because, similar to the reason I think it is like Christmas, it is happens once a year and we can look forward to it. At the end of the day, all our friends and family gather to share a meal as well as their experiences from the day and the year since they last gathered. The meal is a feast and when you are done, you feel like you are going to pop from all the good food you just ate. There's music, toasts, celebrations, and it seems there is that one awkward 'family' member you always try to avoid. And when things start winding down, you are kind of bummed to see everyone go but remind yourself that you will hopefully see each other once again and break bread together in a years' time.

And lastly, Seek the Peak is like a reunion because we get to see participants, past volunteers, current volunteers and observatory fans that we sometimes only get to see at this event each year. While I love catching up with people, it can sometimes be difficult because every time you turn around there is another friendly and familiar face that wants to say hello and catch up but there is only so much time and so much of me to go around that I never feel completely satisfied with catching up with people. It's one of those days you wish you could multiply into 100 different individuals and sit down with as many people as possible to hear their stories from the past year. But alas, that is the stuff of science fiction for now; so for the time being, I just have to take the brief snippets of information from everyone and wait for another year to pass to catch up briefly once again. So, the countdown for next year's Seek the Peak begins. Thank you to everyone that participated this year. It was great meeting you or seeing you again and I look forward to seeing you all once again next year!

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:38 Fri Jul 20th

photo - see caption below
Seek the Peak is Tomorrow!

Twas the night before Seek and across the great peak
the day shift was quiet and soon fast-asleep.

The instruments were hung very safe in their nooks
ready for guests with inquisitive looks.

Volunteers still baked, their brows covered in sweat;
the hunger of Seekers will certainly be met.

Marty was active chasing mice after dark;
tomorrow he may decide to sleep with State Park.

The night watch stood ready for any change in the weather;
but he predicts little change, which is news all the better.

The air was quiet, the wind void of spikes
which will provide our hikers a great morn to hike.

Many stars shone bright, with few clouds around
promising a nice day with great views to be found.

So the Observatory stands, ready for a great crowd
all of whom we will be very, very proud.

We wish safest travels, and are eager to meet
all those who support us, and give them a treat!

Adam Brainard – Summit Intern

18:20 Thu Jul 19th

photo - see caption below
Mont Ham and Killington.

Over the past few weeks I have found myself enamored with the view around the summit of Mount Washington. I've had to opportunity to be able to familiarize myself with the surrounding peaks and how far away they are. Today was a day with great visibility. After getting my bearings, I noticed that Mont Ham, a whopping 106 miles away in Canada was faintly visible, while Killington, a mountain in Vermont about 88 miles away (18 miles closer) was not visible at all.

Obviously, visibility to the north was better than visibility to the West and South because of haze. Haze is an atmospheric phenomenon of obscured clarity in the sky that is caused by dust, smoke and other dry particles that are floating through the air. Where was this haze coming from though, and what was causing it?

Looking at weather maps over the last few days, there's an area of low pressure hanging out over the Hudson Bay. Winds well above the surface of the earth typically follow isobars, or lines of equal pressure, and the isobars indicate that the majority of the air in the area is originating from North-Western Canada. Currently in that area, there are a number of forest fires emitting smoke into the atmosphere. So the smoke from wildfires in Canada is traveling South-East just South-West of the observatory giving it a more hazed appearance than to the North. Amazing how something happening so far away can be influential on our environment here!

Christopher Gregg – Summit Intern

23:20 Wed Jul 18th

photo - see caption below
The view to our south.

Top of Mount Washington for a week, what a treat! I was lucky to spend a week on the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi and north of the Carolina's, cooking, doing house work and exploring the area above the timberline. Spending time with the great people working for the Mount Washington Observatory as meteorologist, museum attendants and tour guides was a joy.

As a rookie and my first time volunteering, I was a bit nervous about the challenge, especially when told five days before I was to leave, I would be the only volunteer working for the week. I was also told that I would get very restless by the end of the week and would want to get off the mountain as soon as Wednesday came. Were they wrong! It is now Wednesday morning and I'm sure glad that the workers have a staff meeting that may last until later in the afternoon so I can stay up here a little bit longer.

I am amazed how well they eat up here. I had a difficult time cooking at times, because there is such a variety of food I couldn't decide what to cook. When I get home I will miss all the selection and surely want to get a beautiful gas stove to cook on.

I was lucky, I was able to see all kinds of weather while here. When we first arrived the weather was perfect, the skies were clear and one could see for miles from Maine to Vermont. I would just soak in all the views and looked forward to my first adventure.

Since the weather was working on my side this week, I was able to take many hikes including going to Lake of the Clouds several times, seeing Tuckermans Ravine, Huntington Ravine and one trip to Mt. Jefferson. I must say my favorite hike was the Alpine Garden trail, the plants and flowers were beautiful and a great place to take photos. One thing I did discover, which I was warned earlier by the observers but didn't quite believe, when you are up here things are farther than you expect. It was truly a learning experience and I didn't mind taking more time to enjoy the beauty of this area.

A once in a lifetime experience was being able to see the Aurora and night skies on the top of a mountain. The great thing about it was, since they were at midnight, we could be woken up by the workers since they work 12 hour shifts to cover a 24 hour day.

It is soon time to go back to the base and must say good-bye to the summit of Mount Washington. I sure will miss this place and look forward to coming back again. The workers and guests have been great and I will surely keep them in my memories for a long time

Beth Daniels – Summit Volunteer

16:56 Tue Jul 17th

Wednesday July 18th the Mount Washington Observatory will be offering its second program for Science in the Mountains: A Passport to Science. This fun and exciting lecture series if free to the public and starts at 7pm Wednesdays through August 15th at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway. This past week kicked off the program with a presentation on Observing Mount Washington's Weather. All the programs cover a wide variety of topics that pertain to the White Mountain region.

This week the presentation will be on Ticks and Lyme Disease by Alan Stearne, Environmental Biologist. Join him for a comprehensive overview of ticks and Lyme disease. The presentation will cover all the tick species that transmit the Lyme disease bacterium, share important facts and myths about the disease, and demonstrate the safe and proper way to remove a tick. Actual specimens will be available for viewing, and a question and answer session will follow the presentation.

Below is a list of the other presentation this summer.

July 25: The Alpine Zone Rebecca Scholand, Mount Washington Observatory Weather Observer and Education Specialist

August 1: Radio Waves Over Rough Terrain ('Can You Hear Me Now?') Seth Campbell, Research Scientist for the US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab

August 8: Research Projects at Tin Mountain Conservation Center Tin Mountain Conservation Center Staff

August 15: Surficial Geology of Mt. Washington & The Presidential Range Brian Fowler, New Hampshire Geologist

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

18:36 Mon Jul 16th

After several days of amazing weather, sun, blue skies, low winds with no fog or rain, it's been back to reality today with a return to the fog, some rain showers and slightly higher winds. It's still very warm though, well over 50 degrees, but I must admit that I'm really glad to be missing the 90+ degree temperatures down in the valley. Tomorrow could be interesting too with the weather models indicating the chance for some afternoon thunderstorms.

The observatory has a lot going on over the next few weeks starting this Wednesday with the second Science in the Mountains lecture series, these are free programs open to the public that take place each Wednesday through the summer at 7pm in our North Conway office - they are well worth attending! This Saturday is of course our 11th installment of the very popular hike-a-thon Seek The Peak - good luck to all those hiking and thank you for your support. We also have several overnight Summit Adventures through the summer for those adventurous folks who'd like to spend some time at the observatory and see behind the scenes, meet the observers and Marty too.

Must be going as I can smell dinner cooking downstairs....

Steve Welsh – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

17:32 Sun Jul 15th

photo - see caption below
Aurora

The Aurora Borials was something that I had learned about, seen pictures of, and heard stories of, but I had never seen them first hand. Seeing them for the first time earlier this summer was quite something, however seeing them for a second time last night was even better.

Studying meteorology, I have always has an interest in what's going on with the weather above and around me. I have also had an interest in what's going on outside Earth's atmosphere. When I heard about a solar storm that would potentially produce some auroras I got pretty excited. I had the night Observer wake me up in the middle of the night so that I could experience them for the first time. Being this far south the colors didn't really show up to the naked eye, all you could really see was a glowing hew above the horizon with the occasional pillars before fading away. With a good camera and knowing how to use it I knew I could bring out a whole new side to the show. The following night I was ready for a better show, but the night Observer forgot to wake us up, so we missed it. Not to complain though, a good night's sleep is a nice thing too

Consequently after my failure capturing pictures of the lights the first two times I chose to use my resources and gain some knowledge about night photography. With this new found knowledge it was now a waiting game until they would be back. I didn't have to wait very long until I got wind that there was a good solar flare that would be producing a good show. This time I was ready. The middle of the night would become my waking hour, but I would be ready this time. I now knew how to set the settings I needed, my tripod was accessible, and out on the dresser easy to grab. Finally I made sure I would be woken up when the show began.

Looking back to last night's show, it was great! Although you couldn't see much color with the naked eye it was quite a different outcome from my camera. My success with night photos doubled my excitement. The next two hours I spent out on the observatory deck watching the sky and taking pictures. I was only able to leave the shutter open for 15 seconds, but regardless I was able to catch quite an impressive show.

Emanuel Janisch – Summit Intern

18:15 Sat Jul 14th

photo - see caption below
My Dad and I when he decided to do Seek The Peak

It is one week until the Mount Washington Observatory's biggest annual fundraising event Seek the Peak and although I have participated the past two years, this year will be different. It just so happens that when I switched shifts my schedule was rearranged so that I am not working on the summit the days of Seek the Peak as I have in the past. This means that I am able to support a very important hiker, my Dad. So at 5am Saturday July 21st we will be taking our first step toward the summit of Mount Washington on his most challenging hike yet. To say I am proud of him for getting into shape to do this is an understatement. Better yet he will be joined by the rest of his team the Peak Seekers.

So how does a very proud daughter get their dad 'into shape' for this event? With awesome gear, that's how! Being sponsored by Eastern Mountain Sports for all our outerwear here on the summit I know they have some wicked pieces great for layering. I started him out with a short sleeve Techwick shirt, then a long sleeve Techwick quarter zip to keep away the chill, followed by a Cloudburst shell. For pants I suggested camp convertible pants that could start as shorts at the base but finish as pants on the summit. To care for his tender feet some comfy socks and super supportive Vasque boots. Top it all off with a new day pack and hydration system for carrying extra gear and water to be prepared for all Mount Washington has to offer. Then it was up to him to train.

In the final days till Seek the Peak it is time to check on your own gear and make sure you are ready to go. Missing something? Not a problem. Eastern Mountain Sports can hook you up, and with great deals going on it's the perfect time to get prepared.

See you all on the trail!

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:29 Fri Jul 13th

photo - see caption below
Instruments on the Half-Way House

Having almost two months under my belt as an intern, I've come to know the observatory pretty well. Through assisting in observations, giving tours, and just exploring the facility I've learned a lot about the data we collect up here and the instruments used to collect it. All the information gathered on the summit is extremely valuable, but this isn't our only source of data. Scattered around the mountain and on nearby peaks we also have various Mesonet sites, which provide a tremendous look at how dramatically conditions can change based on location. One of these sites is situated along the Cog Railway at the Half-Way House at 4500ft, and today I was lucky enough to check it out.

Early in the morning I, along with my fellow intern, left the summit to meet fellow Obs staff members who were riding up on the Cog. It's pretty cool to have to hike halfway down the mountain in order to complete your task for the day. Following the tracks, we made our way down to the station, watching the black smoke from the historic steam engine slowly crawling up the mountain to meet us. Hiking down next to the tracks is not something I would recommend. It's not a path designed for hikers and this became pretty obvious after all the loose footing we were forced to walk over.

Once we got to the station we were given a little briefing on what this specific Mesonet site measures and how all of this information is then broadcasted to the summit for our use. This particular location sends its data over to the Bretton Woods ski area which then broadcasts it up to the observatory. One peculiar this we learned is that the Half-Way House typically experiences very calm winds, despite sitting on a mountain know for having extremes in this category.

This turned out to be a pretty exciting day; helping take down and put up a few instruments, repositioning the camera, and learning a lot about how we collect data from these remote sites. We even had the chance to wave at a few trains passing by, and were met with very confused looks from the passengers--from their perspective we were standing at almost a 45 degree tilt, miraculously not falling down the mountain.

After a few solid hours of work and our tasks complete, we began our trek back up the tracks towards the summit to rejoin with the crew, making a few pit stops along the way to admire the views, including one spot on the Cog tracks know as Jacob's Ladder. Quite the experience.

Steve Harshman – Summit Intern

23:49 Thu Jul 12th

With summer hiking season in full swing, and our annual Seek the Peak hike-a-thon coming up in a little over a week, it is quite prudent to discuss some important guidelines for those of you that plan to spend some time above tree line over the coming months.

Mt. Washington and the White Mountains present many unique challenges to the summer hiker, particularly due to the fact that tree line is, in comparison to other mountainous regions, quite low (generally around 4000-4500 feet). Weather conditions above tree line tend to change much more rapidly than conditions below, which can put one in a dangerous situation if unprepared for the worst.

ALWAYS check the weather forecast before you set out for your hike! A picturesque sunny summer morning can easily turn into a stormy afternoon as instability builds with the heating of the day. Violent showers and thunderstorms hold many dangers, in particular, cloud-to-ground lightning, sudden and significant increases in wind speed, heavy rain, and hail. Due to the unpredictable nature of lightning, avoidance of the situation is the only sure way to protect yourself from a lightning strike. Don't put yourself and your loved ones in harm's way, and never be afraid to turn around if the skies begin to take on an ominous tone.

Dangers that many associate with the winter months--namely hypothermia and frostbite--are alive and well above tree line during the summer. 80 degrees at the base of a mountain can deteriorate into 50 degrees at higher elevations, which, if combined with gusty winds and thick fog, can easily lead to hypothermia. If you're thinking twice about packing that extra layer...pack it!

Above all else, if the forecast for the day looks bleak, be prepared to be flexible. There's no harm in postponing your hike. The mountains will always here for your safe enjoyment!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

14:18 Wed Jul 11th

Science in the Mountains Summer Lecture Series presents Rebecca Scholand, Mount Washington Observatory weather observer and education specialist at 7 p.m. at our Weather Discovery Center, North Conway. What exactly is a meteorologist and how do they make a forecast? Forget the suits and ties and enter the exciting world of our mountaintop crew! Find out who these intrepid scientists are, how they collect data, what kind of data they collect, and how they translate it into information we can use. This is a free program. For more information visit Science in the Mountains.

Brian Clark – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

16:53 Tue Jul 10th

photo - see caption below
This is what 55 mph looks like up here.

It's Tuesday, which means tomorrow we will be heading home; something I think we all look forward to since it means six days off for a bit of rest and relaxation after being up here working for eight days straight. But, this also means that I'll be doing something that I always initially dread doing every down going Wednesday - driving home. It's not that I particularly hate the act of driving or that I have a gnarly commute - heck, a traffic jam is something caused by a moose crossing the road. No, it's none of that; it's the sensation of driving at 55 mph that I fear.

Now, anyone familiar with where I work might read that last sentence and think to themselves "Really, driving at 55 mph freaks you out; don't you work on Mount Washington, a place that sees 55+ mph winds on a regular basis?" And you would be correct, but I would counter that 55 mph in a car is nothing like the sensation from a 55 mph wind. The differences come down to how the two different types of speeds are sensed. One speed is experienced while I am (typically) stationary while the other is experienced by me moving through the world at that rate.

When I am stationary up here during me work week, I calibrate my senses to become tuned with how 55 mph winds affect three of my senses: touch, sight, and sound. I know it is roughly 55 mph by how it's pressing down my clothes or ripping off my hat. I know it is roughly 55 mph by the amount of incline my body is in to walk into the air flow. I know it is 55 mph roughly by the way it is making my loose clothing whip in the wind. I know it is 55 mph by the way the grasses are being whipped about and steam is being sheared off to the side of their vents. I know it is 55 mph by the way it sounds as it roars over the observation deck, around the tower, past the summit sign, and past my ears. I know it is 55 mph by the way it is chilling me quicker that it normally would without winds that high. And I know it is 55 mph by listening to tourists' claim that is must be blowing 100 mph.

But then comes Wednesdays and my ride home. I hope in my car, buckle in, and start pulling away, picking up my speed to 55 mph. After a week of remaining stationary and allowing air to move past me at 55 mph, now I'm moving through the air at 55 mph and usually in a sealed car. So, gone are the sensations of touch and sound leaving me with only with the sensation of sight as the world zips by at 55 mph. If you drive on a daily basis, the sight of 55 mph blurring the world around you is second nature and is something you probably don't even second guess. But after remaining stationary for a week with a nearly static world around me, seeing the world blur by at a rate of 55 mph is a lot (for at least my mind) to initially take in and handle. So, for a brief moment, I have a mini-panic attack as I try to comprehend what is going on around me. I'm sure if you were to mount GoPro's in my car, for a brief period you would see an image reminiscent of what a deer behind the wheel might look like or what someone riding a roller coaster might look like after their first ride down the initial pitch. But, luckily this feeling is brief and it passes as I gradually get used to the world passing me by at 55 mph. But, this recalibration of my senses lasts only for a week, and then I have to start the process all over again. So, until teleportation becomes mastered, this weekly recalibration of the senses will just continue to be a way of life for me.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:38 Sun Jul 8th

photo - see caption below
Chris and Marty in front of the weather wall.

There are a number of tasks that myself and fellow intern, Adam Brainard, share during the week. We work on different data entry projects, make and record a 36-hour weather forecast each afternoon, and provide tours to observatory members that visit the summit. Of our regular tasks, giving tours is likely one of my favorite things to do here on Mount Washington. If you enjoy a certain subject, odds are you enjoy engaging in conversation about that subject and sharing your knowledge with others. For me, giving a tour is nothing but that, I get to share with people something that I really enjoy and help them to learn in the process.

In showing people different aspects of the 'weather wall', I always love seeing faces of awe from touring members; typically when I show them pictures of rime ice, or a Hays wind speed chart from a more impressive day on the summit. In retrospect, it's almost shocking to think how much I personally have learned since I first arrived at Mount Washington in early May. There's a lot about this organization to learn about, and lots of questions to answer.

In giving tours, you get to meet a lot of people with various backgrounds in weather. Some people just became members that day and know little about the observatory, sometimes you'll be greeted by a retired meteorologist with an impressive background, or sometimes you give a tour to a young man who refers to himself as a 'connoisseur of anemometers'. Main point being, this facility has something that anybody of any background can find fascinating, whether that be in a scientific sense, or getting to feel intense winds from the very top of the observatory's tower. Interested in getting a tour of the observatory? Become a member and schedule one by following the instructions here.

Christopher Gregg – Summit Intern

22:27 Sat Jul 7th

photo - see caption below
Our lake of choice six weeks before the swim

There are times in life when you are compelled to do something simply to say you have done it. For fellow intern Christopher Gregg and I, this compulsion came when we learned the interns on the opposite shift had taken a dip in Lakes of the Clouds. Because Chris and I both have an adventurous spirit and are no stranger to the water (we have both been lifeguards), we quickly agreed we would have to attempt this endeavor during the following week.

Fortunately, living on top of the Mt. Washington affords a relatively short hike to Lakes of the Clouds. We departed in fantastic weather conditions: sunny skies and relatively light westerly winds; however as we made our way down, we noticed some pesky clouds closing in from the northwest. Although we made quick work of the mile and a half trail, by the time we were ready for our plunge the sun was thoroughly obstructed and winds had intensified to 20-25mph.

Unwilling to abandon the campaign, we pondered how exactly to go about our 'dip' into the dark, freezing abyss. Illogically deciding a quick, sharp jump in would be the best way to expedite the certain shock of the cold; we found what seemed to be a suitable entrance point with no visible rocks within a few feet of the surface (see red circle in picture). Chris, the much more seasoned swimmer, took the lead plunging into the lake with a nice splash and yelp of overwhelming cold. I soon followed suit embracing the shock of the numbing cold, and spent about a minute meandering around trying to find footing on the effectively invisible lake bottom. The sharp, rocky bottom was an even bigger dilemma for Chris, who unfortunately found a sizable cut in his foot after exiting the water. Upon discovering the injury we quickly dried off, Chris wrapped his foot in a bandanna, and we made a hasty exit toward the summit. With worries about bleeding and infection providing adrenaline, we made great time back up the rockpile, accomplishing the twelve hundred vertical feet in forty minutes. Chris was then able to properly treat the wound, and looks to make a full recovery.

All in all, we learned a few lessons about any future lake adventures. First, water shoes are a must. The bottom is rocky, sharp, and invisible to the eye, and without protection your feet are certain to be scratched or cut. Second, jumping in, as fun as it sounds, is (obviously) not smart. We knew this at the time, but let the excitement of the moment outweigh our rationale. This proved a very bad decision, as it is likely what led to Chris's injury. Finally, the water really is as cold as you can imagine. There was snow hugging the shore well into June, and even in July it feels like liquid ice. While we prepared for this and did not spend more than a minute or two submerged, hypothermia will begin affecting your body if you continue to be exposed or are unable to dry off.

Looking back on the experience I had a lot of fun and accomplished my simple goal. I naturally wish there had not been an injury, but I am pleased it has been treated successfully. If you wish to follow in our footsteps (or ripples), please follow my tips, act responsibly, and have fun!

Adam Brainard – Summit Intern

22:03 Fri Jul 6th

photo - see caption below
Our two newest sponsors have your feet covered!

Let the races to begin here on Mount Washington. This weekend weather permitting will be the running of Newton's Revenge a bike race up the famous Mount Washington Auto Road. Newton's Revenge is listed as 'the other Toughest Hillclimb in the World'. The Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb which will be held on August 18th is known as 'The Toughest Hillclimb in the World'. For anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to come up to the Summit on the Auto Road it a nice well maintained 7.6 mile stretch of road to the Summit with only one hill.

The 12th annual Seek the Peak also right around the corner with only 14 days left to that great event. The great news there is that SmartWool and Vasque have just signed on to be Gold level sponsors of this year's event. In addition to their generous support, both companies are also providing hundreds of dollars' worth of prizes and giveaways, including 15 pairs of Vasque boots, a pair of SmartWool's new PhD socks for every goodie bag, and five $100 gift certificates for SmartWool apparel!

If you don't want to do the hike you can still share all the fun and excitement of our huge after party, annual meeting presentation, and outdoor expo. Tickets are also available here for a sumptuous, all-you-can-eat feast.

Roger Pushor – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

22:25 Thu Jul 5th

Mount Washington Observatory's Summit Adventures have been recognized as a 2012 'Editors' Choice' winner in Yankee Magazine's Travel Guide to New England. Hailed as 'Best on-top-of-the-world feeling,' the two-day trips welcome visitors to the Observatory's famous mountaintop weather station, allowing them to spend a night and experience the beauty and weather of the Northeast's tallest peak.

'We are incredibly proud to have received this distinction,' says Mount Washington Observatory Executive Director Scot Henley. 'As a nonprofit institution with a mission to advance understanding of Earth's atmosphere, our trips allow us to share our work with the public. Yankee's recognition attests to just how incredible that work - and Mount Washington - truly are.'

The Observatory has been monitoring Mount Washington's weather from its summit station since 1932. Observatory scientists live on the mountain, taking hourly weather observations and conducting research related to the weather and climate.

'As year-round inhabitants, we know the mountain unlike anyone else,' says Observatory Director of Education Michelle Cruz. 'Besides allowing you to spend a night on the summit, an experience not available any other way, our trips show you a side of Mount Washington you've never seen.'

Featuring cozy accommodations at the Observatory's legendary mountaintop weather station, the trips include round-trip transportation to the summit, home-cooked meals, and all the famous Mount Washington weather and scenery you can handle.

Four dates are available in July and August, priced at $249 for Observatory members and $299 for non-members. More information may be found by clicking HERE.

Yankee Magazine's Travel Guide features 287 'Best of New England - Editors' Choice' selections, which include the region's best dining and lodging venues, attractions, adventures, local secrets, and bargains.

'This special travel issue highlights 'The Best of New England:' more sights to see, things to do, places to eat or spend an overnight than most of us could possibly fit into even the most jam-packed vacation,' says Yankee's editor Mel Allen. 'Wherever you may travel this season in New England, there's certain to be a Yankee 'Best' nearby.'

Cara Rudio – Marketing and Communications Coordinator

23:09 Wed Jul 4th

What an incredible experience to live and volunteer on the summit of Mount Washington for a week! I had a fabulous time here and highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to have a unique adventure and some time away from everyday life.

The weather allowed for me to have three days of amazing hiking in the Presidential's. My favorite hike was to Mt. Clay, the views were outstanding. Beginning a hike from the summit and returning to the summit is a unique experience and I loved the feeling of reaching the summit of Mount Washington three times in one week. Despite spending a few days in the fog, I was still able to take over 300 photos and look forward to developing some of those into greeting cards or prints for family and friends.

The crew I spent this week with is great and we had fun sharing stories and getting to know each other at dinner each night. Cooking at high altitudes is different and I learned to adjust recipes and cooking times as the week progressed.

The full moon above and the fireworks displays below created a perfect mix for enjoying my last night here and I was grateful for the clear night sky.

I will certainly brag to all my friends for years to come of the amazing time I have had here on the summit and look forward to doing this again in the future! I thank the Mount Washington Observatory for creating this great opportunity to its members.

Jennifer Goodson – Summit Volunteer

22:22 Tue Jul 3rd

Seek The Peak is 18 DAYS AWAY!

Registration kicks off on July 20th at the Weather Discovery Center and July 21st is a fun filled day of hiking, touring the Observatory and a rocking after party at the base of the Mt Washington Auto Road.

A few things to keep in mind as we race towards the big day,

1.Seek The Peak is our largest annual fundraiser that helps us operate our unique weather station on the summit of Mount Washington. Being a nonprofit organization this is very important to us. We are not funded by NOAA like some may think.

2. Tons of freebies! When you meet certain fundraising goals there is some awesome 'schwag' to be had. Just naming a few, EMS Techwich tee, EMS Esker Day pack, STP Nalgene, Petzel Tikka 2 headlamp, STP Cloudburst Rain Jacket, and much more.

3. In addition to just receiving fundraising incentives, you will also be entered to win even more gear like gift certificates, trips, vehicle leases, gear, gadgets and more.

4. Admission to a huge after party featuring an outdoor expo, live music, prizes, an all-you-can-eat feast, and the opportunity to meet several awesome people. It is such a great event that every year, the summit crew makes their way down for an hour or two to mingle and of course, eat - we love doing that. With Seek The Peak only a few weeks away it is time to kick it into high gear.

If you are not signed up yet, head over to Seek The Peak and register. It's free and easy to do. Then once you have an account set up, it's time to start fundraising. Don't let this frighten you. If you can get, 200 friends to donate just $1, you will meet your goal in no time. Once you meet your goal, it all comes down to the events. Friday, July 20th, you will register at the kick -off party we hold at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway Village. Then, on the 21st of July, you hit the trails. Upon making it to the summit, you get a free tour of our facilities then head over to the after party at the base of the Mt Washington Auto Road. This is where you get to eat tons of food, as well as where you will win your additional prizes.

See you on the trail!

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:23 Mon Jul 2nd

As an avid hiker I love to get to the top of every mountain I hike. No matter how long the distance no matter how hard the hike I always seem to push myself to the next level. However, I am always smart enough to never let my ego get the best of me. As a hiker this can be one of the most difficult things to have control of while hiking in the White Mountains and especially on Mount Washington.

Living on top of Mount Washington for eight days at a time while I work I come across lots of hikers. These hikers range from first time hikers, extreme hikers, through hikers, and young hikers. All of which share one thing in mind, getting to the top. We all seek that feeling of accomplishment and once it's been met it is very easy to forget how quickly things can turn bad.

Since starting work up here I have witnessed all four seasons in just two months. I've witnessed severe thunderstorms, 100mph winds, snow in June, thick fog, and very cold temperatures for this time of year. With that being said, I have witnessed many hikers in the beginning stages of hypothermia, exhaustion, some soaked in cotton clothes, and some of whom had no clue what trail they had hiked up on or were heading back down on.

It may feel like summer to you down in the valley but when it comes to the mountains make sure to always hike safe. You should try and never let your ego get the best of you. You can always check the weather for Mount Washington at our website at www.mountwashington.org. Make sure to have a plan, leave your plan with someone who will not be hiking with you, and make sure you always have the proper gear, food, and water. We may be open to the public in the summer, but you should always have a second plan just in case the Sherman Adams building is not open to the public. Hiking can either be the best experience of your life or the worst.

If the weather is beautiful and you make it to the summit of Mount Washington on your next trek up, there is plenty to check out up here. We have a great Museum and also give tours of the Observatory at the top of every hour for all members!

Samantha Brady – Summit Museum Supervisor

16:43 Sun Jul 1st

photo - see caption below
Playing Catch With the Wind

One of the things that come to mind first when Mount Washington is brought up is the winds. That in a sense is what Mount Washington is known for, the highest wind speed ever recorded by man. Now 231 mph has not been recorded again on the summit but winds have easily reached 100 plus mph during the winter. During the summer however, winds of this speed are a rare occurrence but speeds of 65mph and above happen now and again. With winds of these speeds playing catch is out of the question. Throwing a baseball into the wind, the ball's never going to get to your partner and throwing with the wind it will be carried way past. So with this being the case I would normally have giving up and gone inside, however stroke of genius hit me, why not play catch with the wind. So by throwing the ball a little in front of me and up the wind would blow it back and I would catch it. After a few test throws I learned that the further I throw it up the further away I could throw it and it would always come back to me and it turned into a game. It almost seemed like I was playing fetch with my dog except the wind would bring the ball back and not the dog. As light faded seeing the ball became a problem and after sunset I was forced to retire playing catch with myself and head indoors away from the howling winds.

Emanuel Janisch – Summit Intern

Home of the World's Worst Weather
Administration: 2779 White Mountain Highway, P. O. Box 2310, North Conway, NH 03860 • Tel: 603-356-2137 • Fax: 603-356-0307 • contact us
>> OUR PARTNERS Eastern Mountain Sports Subaru Cranmore Mt Washington Auto Road Mt Washington Cog Railway Vasque EATON MWVCC
Mount Washington Observatory respects your privacy           ©2014 Mount Washington Observatory           Site Directory
Web Site Support from Zakon Group LLC