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Observer Comments

September 2012

22:03 Sun Sep 30th

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Me in the East Snowfields, March 7, 2006

In case you're just tuning in, after nearly five and a half years (plus an internship) this shift is my last working for the Observatory. So, I have been taking the opportunity to look back on my time with the organization, and so far I have been talking particularly about how I ended up working for the Observatory in the first place. I really hope that my posts have been half as interesting to you as they have been therapeutic for me; it's been a good chance for me to reflect on the path the led me here.

Anyway, in my comment on Friday, I talked about my internship interview in November of 2005. As I mentioned in that comment, I was offered the internship the day of my interview, and accepted. I began my internship on Wednesday January 4, 2006. I knew that I was in for an interesting experience in the months that would follow, but in the end, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Summarizing those 4+ months that I was an intern in one Observer Comment is nothing short of a daunting task. I learned so much about operational meteorology, more than I ever expected that I could or would. I had the privilege of working with some great observers that taught me a lot, and have remained good friends to this day. So in the end, I guess all I can do in this comment is pick out a few things about those months that stand out in my mind.

Through the course of that winter, I met a lot of great people, especially through the volunteer program. Two of the most memorable volunteers, and two of my all-time favorites, I happened to meet on my very first week: Al and Marion Lake. At that point, they had already put it in at least 10 years of volunteering on the summit, so they knew way more than me about summit operations. They were extremely welcoming and helped me greatly in adjusting to life on the mountain during that first week. Al also made me a lunch that I will never forget: the Grilled Elvis. It's a sandwich, of sorts. To make one, you take two pieces of buttered bread, fill them with peanut butter, banana, bacon, and honey, and then grill it all. I distinctly remember working away at the video system computer one day, and then all of a sudden Al appeared and presented me with this monstrosity of a sandwich. I was very skeptical at first, but definitely became a believer after my first bite. I had the privilege of having Al and Marion on my shift several more times before they 'retired' from the summit volunteer program last year. Just in case I never actually said it, Al and Marion (since I know you're reading this), thank you very much for that first week. It wouldn't have been the same without you.

Although there was always lots of work to do as an intern – and trust me, lots of work was done – I also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities I had to get outside, take a break from work, and take advantage of the incredible 'back yard' I had outside our doors. Up until I was an intern, I had only been backcountry skiing once, which I talked about in my Observer Comment on Thursday. I was lucky to have former observer Neil Lareau on my shift for a good chunk of my internship, and he was single handedly responsible for introducing me to the incredible world of backcountry skiing above treeline on Mount Washington. We would often head off to the East Snowfields for a couple runs when weather allowed, and I had some very memorable days there that winter. In fact, I would go far as to saying that I had some of my very best backcountry ski experiences when I was an intern. On the days that weren't so nice weather-wise, we would head out for half an hour or so and take some laps right on the summit, on a slope between the Stage Office and the upper parking lot that was dubbed 'Parking Lot Gully'. It's only 5 or 6 turns long, but it was a good way to get outside for some fresh air.

This comment is already getting rather long, so at the risk of turning it into a novel, I will wrap things up by sharing a few other memories through pictures that I uncovered over the last few months:

- Even after all these years, some of my favorite scenic Mount Washington photos were taken during my internship. Like this one, this one, and this one.

- How could I not share this photo of myself with my friend and former observer Jim Salge, wearing some very stylish jackets that he found at a thrift store?

- I attempted, and succeeded at entering the Century Club on February 17, 2006. Average wind speed, at the top of the tower, during the attempt was 105.4 mph, with a peak gust of 117.0 mph. The temperature was about 5 degrees. Yes, (I'm talking to you Jeff DeRosa) the wind was coming from the west which made it a lot easier than some other wind directions, but it still wasn't exactly easy!

- I was lucky enough to be able to have my father, a fellow meteorologist, visit me on the summit during my internship. He came all the way from southern California and ended up getting a perfect mix of weather during his stay.

- Shoveling was a lot more difficult when I was an intern.

- Nin was an awesome cat, and a great work companion.

Just like with my internship interview, if I had left my Observatory internship and never got to come back, I would have left with an experience that would stick with me for the rest of my life. Luckily, yet again, my time on Mount Washington was not over.

P.S. Be sure to keep an eye on my Mount Washington Blog on AccuWeather.com over the next several days. I've decided that I will post a series of entries that will highlight my favorite photos, of several different categories, that I have taken in my time on the mountain.

Brian Clark – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

19:32 Sat Sep 29th

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Inflating a Weather Balloon at NWS Gray

I'm going to break from the tradition of Observers writing about what's happening at the top of the 'rock' pile today and talk about an experience I had during my last off week.

It was Thursday morning and I had gotten up early to a perfect day - The skies were clear, with low winds and the temperature was mild. Before I left for my week off I had made arrangements to pick up some equipment and the National Weather Service office in Gray and also have the opportunity to participate in the 7:00 am Weather Balloon release so off I headed about 6:15 so I could be at the NWS office by a little after 6:30. When I got to the office preparations were already underway - The radiosonde that we'd be attaching to the Weather Balloon was hanging from the ceiling of the office by a string and had already been checked out. The final thing we had to do before heading up the hill to the launch site was to point the antenna in the direction we thought the balloon was going to head for the first few minutes after release and to do this we checked the last METAR for Portland and finally for Mount Washington to give us a good idea what the winds in the upper atmosphere were doing.

After a short walk up the hill past Gray Radar on the left and some nice fields we got to the building where we'd be inflating the balloon and assembling the whole package for release. First we got the balloon inflated with helium than tied the neck off with some heavy string. Next it was time to add a parachute so once the balloon got to an altitude where it would expand and break because of the thinning atmosphere the radiosonde could safely return to earth. Along the East coast many of these radiosondes end up landing in the ocean and are never recovered however if you ever do find one please follow the instructions on the device and return it to NWS for reuse.

The seven o'clock hour was now fast approaching when we could release the balloon - We had a release window from 7:00 am and not a minute earlier until 8:30 am to get the balloon off. Everything was ready - We had the balloon all inflated with its parachute attached and about 75 feet of heavy string to hold the radiosonde at a safe distance below the balloon. Seven o'clock came and it was up-up and away. We watched the balloon for a few minutes than headed back down the hill to the office to track it on the computer systems.

After a short walk back down the hill to the office we got in front of a couple of computer screens and could see all of the tracking and weather data coming in. We were watching for a few key points in the flight, the first being when the balloon reached an altitude where the temperature was at the freezing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The next critical point was when the balloon reached a point in the atmosphere where the Air Pressure was 400 millibars which is roughly twenty-three to twenty-four thousand feet above sea level. Once the balloon reached this point we had the data that was needed for the Weather Models. By this time the balloon was in the upper air and moving away from us at over 100 miles per hour.

This was exciting and as I drove home I had to ask myself if this It Specialist is turning into a Weather Geek.

Roger Pushor – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

21:45 Fri Sep 28th

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Shift Change Day, November 23, 2005

Yesterday I talked about my first Mount Washington experience in the spring of 2005. My second Mount Washington Experience? That came about 6 months later.

I remember sitting in my mesoscale meteorology class in October of 2005, which happened to meet in a computer lab. As was probably the case way too often for me, I was not paying as much attention as I should have been and was instead using the computer. Stealthily, of course. On this particular day, I was checking the conditions on Mount Washington on the Observatory's website that I had only recently discovered. While I was browsing around the site that day, I found the 'Jobs and Volunteering' section, and subsequently the page with information about the internship program. I noticed that I still had some time to get an application in for the coming winter internship.

I actually didn't immediately jump on applying. Sure, I thought to myself about how incredible of an experience it would be, but then I also thought about the logistics of it all. Up until a few months prior to discovering the Observatory internship, I had often let this practical, logical, and analytical side of me prevent me from jumping at these sorts of opportunities. Not anymore though. After a few days, I sent in my application, and figured I would take care of logistics later, if I even heard anything back.

Much to my surprise, a few days later I got an email from former observer Jim Salge, inviting me for an interview, which after a few more emails, we scheduled for shift change day on Thanksgiving Eve. I immediately started to figure out what I needed to do in order to take a semester off from school, what to do with my apartment, etc.

It was a long way to drive for a one day interview, but then again, how often does one get to go and interview for an internship on top of a mountain? I remember coming into Gorham, NH through driving snow squalls. As a born and raised central Pennsylvanian, I was in heaven seeing snow that early in the year. The snow that fell that night made the trip up the Auto Road for my interview a little difficult though. I remember waiting for a very long time at the parking lot near the 3-mile marker for the snow tractor to come down and get us. I'm sure for the crew at the time, that wait was annoying. For me, it was an opportunity to walk around, take pictures, and generally enjoy the whole experience.

The interview itself was a bit nerve wracking, with all the observers and Ken Rancourt sitting around the table in the conference room, asking me questions. When it was over though, I was told that I could go out and wander around while they took care of the rest of the shift change activities. I was pleasantly surprised that, although we arrived in thick fog, things had cleared out nicely revealing an undercast below the summit and an overcast above; a cloud sandwich of sorts. Even after all the time I have spent on Mount Washington since then, I have yet to see something quite the same as that day. It was an incredible experience for me, and even if nothing else had happened with the internship, I would have remembered that day for the rest of my life. Luckily, I didn't have to be content with that single experience with the Observatory. Before we left, Jim Salge came outside and found me sitting by the cog tracks. He offered me a half broken ice axe to keep, if I wanted. It was still useful for self arresting, so I took it. I wasn't thinking at the time that he was offering it to me as a sign that I was going to be coming back.

After arriving back at the base a little later, Ken took me aside and offered me the internship on the spot. Naturally, I accepted on the spot as well, and with no hesitation whatsoever.

Brian Clark – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

23:37 Thu Sep 27th

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My First Trip to Mount Washington, May 2005

Transitions within the summit staff are particularly difficult. This is because of a number of factors, not the least of which is the simple fact that there's only so much knowledge a person can bring into a job here. In other words, the vast majority of the things that one needs to learn to be an observer need to be learned on Mount Washington, on the job. Because of this, I made my decision to leave the Observatory all the way back in early March. I knew there were other transitions to deal with this summer, and I didn't want my departure to be a burden on the organization, so I figured that giving more than six months' notice would help quite a bit. On a personal level, knowing that far in advance that I would be leaving has allowed me plenty of time to prepare for that departure, in numerous ways. One of those ways has been to organize and sort the thousands of photos I have taken on the mountain over the years, so that I could leave the Observatory with my personal 'best of the best' to add to their collection. It was a tedious task, but it was also a nice trip down memory lane at times.

My first visit to Mount Washington didn't actually come until the spring of 2005, when I was finishing up my junior year at Penn State. A couple of my college friends and ski/ride buddies came to me and asked if I wanted to go to Tuckerman Ravine after finals were over. Like so many people, I had heard of the legendary Tuckerman Ravine and the snow that it holds late into the spring. However, I really didn't know much more than that.

I'll never forget the excitement that hit me when we were coming across route 2 north of the Presidentals, and I caught sight of the snow on the peaks for the first time. We stayed at Hermit Lake for 2 nights and 2 days, and had some fantastic weather. At the time, I had no idea how lucky we were to get the weather that we did. Of course, that weather made for some of the best skiing I had ever had at that point in my life.

It's such a cliché thing to say, but this was one of the moments in my life that I can look back on, and clearly see that it happened for a reason. Not only did that trip lead to a keen interest in Mount Washington, but it also created some other changes in my life that then allowed me to express interest during the fall of 2005 in becoming an intern with the Observatory, but that's another story for another day!

Brian Clark – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

21:27 Wed Sep 26th

The beginning of the end. The first of the last. Call it what you will; today was the start of my last shift working on the summit. I know that it has been mentioned a couple times by others in the Observer Comments over the last month or so, but this is the first time that I've personally mentioned it on here. After nearly five and a half years of full-time work on the summit of Mount Washington for the Observatory, my last day will be next Wednesday October 3.

I definitely have a lot of mixed emotions as I get started with my work this evening (I'll be on nights this week while Ryan is on vacation). The decision to leave was, of course, entirely mine, but there are definitely innumerable things that I will miss about calling the tallest peak in the Northeast 'my office'. At the same time, I am excited, and admittedly a little anxious, about changes and opportunities I have coming up in my life. More on that as this shift progresses, I'm sure.

Typically, the entire summit crew shares the job of updating these Observer Comments, meaning that each of us writes one or two each shift. This shift though, you will end up hearing from me at least three more times as I share some thoughts about my experiences here, as well as my absolute favorite photos out of the nearly 4,000 that I have taken!

Brian Clark – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

19:46 Mon Sep 24th

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A dusting of snow from today's showers

We had our first snowfall of autumn today! The falling snow was relatively brief, but it brought back many memories from the not-so-recent meltout last spring. Pictures of early season snow on Mount Washington either gets people's hearts longing for winter or make people wish the summer hadn't gone by so fast.

As fall progresses to winter, the summit will get many feet of snow. Come spring this snow, bitterly cold and dangerously unstable in mid-winter, induces a migration of ski addicts to the mountain. One of the most popular places to ski is Tuckerman's Ravine, Southeast of the summit. Much of the snow on the summit above is drifted into the ravine, piling snow tens of feet deep onto the ravine floor. On warm spring days, there can be hundreds of people in a long line climbing up the steep snowy slopes for the opportunity to ski snow with pitches of 55 degrees and steeper (to give you a sense of how steep that is, a steep black diamond run is usually about 45 degrees). Ski patrol takes its regular post at the bottom of the bowl, often making skiers believe that all the medical help they may need is easily accessible.

It is easy for skiers to not realize the risks they may take skiing on Mt Washington. They may be surrounded by hundreds of people cheering them on as if they were in a gigantic stadium, but one misjudgment can have grave consequences. Each year, many skiers are seriously injured in Tuckerman's Ravine. Many skiers don't understand that it can take countless hours to get the seriously injured to medical help.

Mt Washington has this allure for hikers, too. People heading up the mountain are lulled into a false sense of security by planning to take cover in one of the summit buildings or take a car back down to the base if the weather gets bad. Especially this time of year, not all hikers understand that the summit is iced over on a regular basis when the valley is warm. In the case that the auto road closes or the summit building is not open (such as in the winter), unprepared hikers must rely on rescuers to help find a safe way down the mountain. Unprepared hikers are putting their own safety at risk and sometimes risking the safety of their rescuers.

As with any outdoor adventure, there is always risk involved when ascending Mt Washington. Hikers can minimize this risk by preparing for a backcountry, not a front country, adventure. In Tuckerman's ravine this may involve gaining experience on smaller runs before skiing down high risk runs. When climbing Mount Washington this involves preparing for worse conditions than you believe you'll encounter and turning around if you think you may be unprepared for the conditions in front of you. If you are unsure of the consequences of a certain hike or ski run, travelling with a guided group is a good way to understand how to minimize risks. Climbing Mount Washington, just like skiing Tuckerman's Ravine, is an incredible, and sometimes a life changing, experience. However, travelers must always be mindful to be self-reliant and anticipate the ever-changing conditions on the summit.

Mike Dorfman – Summit Intern

23:47 Sun Sep 23rd

Continuing the theme from my last comment, I'll share a little bit more about the unique experience that is the night shift. This time, let's do it by the numbers...

12...The number of observations I perform each night. My first ob kicks the night off at 5:45 PM EST, and my last one wraps things up at 5:45 AM EST.

11...(degrees Fahrenheit) The wind chill factor when temperatures dip just below freezing, with winds sustained at hurricane force. This is a good benchmark to remember when considering how long one night observer will be venturing out for.

10...(P.M.) The time at which I must put any other projects I'm working on aside, and commence the full-swing night shift routine.

9...The pieces of gear I must assemble in order to venture outdoors for observations and instrumentation maintenance during the harsh winter nights. This includes a fleece, outer shell, snow pants, winter boots, baclava, winter hat, gloves, goggles, and of course, a headlamp.

8...(P.M.) Dinner time! Well, for me, it's actually lunch. But that aside, family dinner is the highlight of my day, and a chance to be social for a while before the night kicks into full swing.

7...The approximate amount of hours I spend with my shift mates still awake. On average, I'll wake up around 2 or 3 PM, and the daytime folk start heading to bed around 9 or 10 PM.

6...The approximate amount of hours of music I listen to during the night. In order to mask all of those eerie nighttime resonances, and in large part to keep me alert and awake, solid background music is a crucial part of the night shift. After all, who can work in dead silence anyway?

5...The average number of 'midnight' snacks I'll consume during my shift. A guy's gotta eat!

4...The number of legs belonging to my feline nighttime companion, Marty. You generally wouldn't know he even has legs, however, as the bulk of his night is spent lounging and/or sleeping on one of countless weather room surfaces that suits his furry fancy.

3...The cups of coffee it takes to get me through the night. This is heavily dependent on the quality of sleep during that particular shift week, but who doesn't like to sip coffee at 11PM? Eek.

2...The number of radio shows I prepare and record every morning. During the weekdays, that consists of a 36-hour higher summits forecast for station WBNC, and then a brief summary of the current weather coupled with a wrap-up of yesterday's weather for station WOKQ. On the weekends, the NHPR forecast for the state of New Hampshire takes the place of the WOKQ show.

1...(A.M.) The only observation for which the precipitation can must be retrieved, with no other souls awake on the summit. Generally, this is no big deal, but on those nights when the winds are blowing in excess of 100 mph, and the blowing snow/freezing fog combination are obscuring visibility, this can be a harrowing and adrenaline-inducing experience. It's at these times when I think to myself, 'Yup, I'm being PAID to do this!'

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:08 Sat Sep 22nd

My first observation this morning saw the station enveloped in thick fog with enough drizzle falling to soak you through in no time at all. You could hardly see the far end of the deck and it looked like we were heading for another dull foggy Mount Washington day. However, within a few hours the sky above was completely clear with the only clouds located well below us as they blanketed the surrounding valleys and lower peaks. Now the clouds are starting to roll in again as a cold front approaches from the west. The current balmy 50 degree temperatures will soon be plummeting and by this time tomorrow we could be flirting with the freezing mark - time to get my EMS jacket out.

Today is also the equinox, it's that special event that occurs twice a year (around March 20th and September 22nd) when the Earth's axis is inclined neither towards nor away from the sun. From today the northern hemisphere will start to tilt away from the sun as our fall season officially begins. Much to the delight of the night observers, but not many others, our days will now be shorter than our nights. In the southern hemisphere the opposite is happening and the length of their days will increase as their spring season gets under way.

Steve Welsh – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

19:46 Fri Sep 21st

Many hikers coming out to the White Mountains have the opportunity to check weather reports on a daily basis thanks to the many huts that display the higher summits forecast. There are many places, both in the northeast and other parts of the country, where hikers can go for days or even weeks without being in touch with front-country luxuries such as a weather forecast. Without these forecasts and warnings, many backpackers can be caught off guard by severe weather. Backcountry travelers may not have access to a forecast, but cloud types can sometimes indicate whether the day should be weathered out in the tent or if it's safe to venture above tree line.

One indicator that rain may be approaching is the presence of growing lenticular clouds. These clouds look like 'caps' on top of mountains, hovering over mountaintops. They form when air rises over a mountain and condenses near the top of the mountain as it cools. This is showing that the air flowing over the mountain is very moist and if this cap grows, you know the air is growing moister. Eventually, stratus and other clouds will start to form in the sky and soon rain might be falling.

Often in the summertime, the biggest meteorological threat is by thunderstorms. Summertime thunderstorms require several things to form; they need moist air, a source of heat, and an unstable atmosphere. If you look up to the sky on a summer morning and see towering, growing cumulus clouds above you, it is a good indicator that you could run into heavy rain and thunderstorms later in the day.

Another good indicator as to what the weather will do is not by looking at natural clouds, but rather by looking at contrails of airplanes. As airplanes move through the air, the immense pressurization then subsequent depressurization as air flows over the wing of an aircraft forces water inside the air to condense. Often, the air surrounding this small 'cloud' is very dry, so the water droplets immediately evaporate back into the dry air. However if contrails stick around for a long time, then the surrounding air may be moist. If you see these contrails lingering for longer and longer, showing the air becoming more and more moist, then you know clouds may soon form above you!

The key to backcountry travel in exposed areas is to start early and be flexible. If you start early, then you are almost sure to beat any convective storms that often form later in the day. Keep your eyes open and, look for clouds that could indicate foul weather is on its way and act accordingly!

Mike Dorfman – Summit Intern

19:56 Thu Sep 20th

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Can you spot the three modes of transportation?

Last night the temperature on the Summit reached 27 degrees and I woke to frost covering the rocks outside. A welcome sight for me as I love winter and it got me thinking about how winter on the summit is not only something I enjoy but part of my job.

Last week I was sent the link to a video a friend made of how he gets ready for work. Although our lives are very different I could relate. Now I will start by saying that my friend is a performer for 20 Penny Productions in Florida, a sideshow circus, and I an Observer for the Mount Washington Observatory. Very different positions and jobs indeed, but we both wake up and become the person we enjoy being. Whether gearing up to brave the weather or getting ready to entertain a crowd it puts us in character and we are prepared for the day.

When I wake up in the winter it's not a simple 1-2-3 to get ready. I have my base layers to think about. What mid layer is best for the conditions and what jacket might serve me best. On really cold days I turn to a heavier jacket. On windy days I might grab a shell with a fleece under. I grab warm gloves, hat, and goggles. When I step out to brave the conditions I am ready, luckily Eastern Mountain Sports keeps us warm.

So the point of this comment is to remind everyone that no matter what you are getting ready to do in the morning make sure you are prepared for the day no matter what you are doing, preforming for a crowd, observing the weather, or just enjoying the outdoors!

If you are in the White Mountains be sure to check our current conditions page to help you be ready for the conditions.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

23:06 Wed Sep 19th

The summit at night is a completely different experience than the daytime scene.

Having been a summit employee for over four years, I've seen my fair share of fascinating phenomena. But I can say, without hesitation, that the vast majority and the most notable of these experiences have come during the nighttime hours. As ironic as it may sound, most of these experiences have to do with the concept of light during these dark hours. Because of the dark setting, different forms of observable nighttime lights take on a whole new significance:

LIGHTS FROM ABOVE: Hailing from central NJ, a star-filled night sky is not something I was ever accustomed to. However, on a crystal clear winter night on the summit, the observable stars rival any planetarium you could find around the world.

LIGHTS FROM BELOW: City lights from nearby towns and faint-orange glows on the horizon from distant metropolis' skylines not only serve a functional purpose in determining prevailing visibility, but also provide an interesting nighttime valley landscape.

LIGHTS FROM THE NORTH: The Aurora Borealis (northern lights) is a spectacular light show that not many will ever behold in their lifetime, and the only opportunity to view it on the summit will come during the nighttime hours.

LIGHTS FROM THE CLOUDS: Being a meteorologist, and in particular, a fan of severe weather, clear nights resulting in the viewing of the above spectacles can grow tiresome. There's plenty of action and adrenaline with night-lights, too, in the form of lightning-producing-thunderstorms. During the summertime, thunderstorms within view of the summit are a common occurrence, and storms striking the summit itself happen multiple times throughout the warm season. While the viewing of a distant light show is downright awe-inspiring, the experience of a storm right over one's head, with lightning regularly striking the structures around you, is exciting and incredible.

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:38 Tue Sep 18th

As first time volunteers at the Mount Washington Observatory we quickly learned to be flexible... from using available food supplies, getting used to our inexperience with high altitude cooking, learning how to host guests, using 'summit time' (EST), and of course, the weather. By the end of our first full day, we had become fairly well oriented to supplies on hand and conquered a full course turkey dinner that was served to fifteen: eight summit staff and seven guests from the first Cog Summit Adventure group who arrived mid-afternoon on Thursday via Cog Railway, to spend the night. We joined the guests to view the thrill of a summit sunset on Thursday, then sunrise Friday AM at 0517 'summit time' (or EST).

Glorious sunny weather rapidly swtiched to glorious stormy weather during the night on Friday. We awoke to zero visibility, average wind speeds of 48mph, and temps that eventually dropped to 28F degrees. Brief visits to the observation deck left us breathless, facing into the wind, shouting to talk. Saturday also brought a special dinner with current and past Observers, NH State Park staff, and a MWOBS trustee, to celebrate the 5+ years of service by Brian Clark who is leaving his post as Weather Observer/Education Specialist in October. The celebration culminated in a competitive 'Cookie Bake-Off'; the trophy going to Sarah Long.

Sunday was even colder, with clear blue skies that coaxed not only us, but many valley visitors, to explore the summit buildings, exhibits, shops and museum. Rime ice coated rocks, buildings, ropes, towers, signs, railings, the flag pole and the observation deck viewfinder. Evidently we were not the only ones to seek out the wonderment of trying to stand up against 50mph winds, as we watched many of you do the same.

In closing, we want to thank all who are involved with supporting Mount Washington Observatory. Our role as volunteers this week has been to provide a small taste of home life for these dedicated permanent staff, to take a bit of the work load off their shoulders, and to help welcome visitors and guests while enjoying the gifts of such a unique place.

Observer Footnote: Now through September 19, the Mount Washington Observatory is competing against thousands of nonprofits across the country for a share of $5,000,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest. Nearly 200 charities will be awarded grants through this contest, and Mount Washington Observatory has a legitimate shot at winning a grant of up to $250,000 to support its work in research and education. Grants are awarded to the top vote-getters, so I'm asking for your help. Please cast a vote for the Observatory! To do so go HERE, and hurry, there's only one day left to vote!

Patty and Wendy – Summit Volunteers

19:57 Mon Sep 17th

Although Fall is not my favorite season, or even perhaps my second favorite season, I do enjoy it quite a bit. Days on the summit like the last couple epitomize the reasons that I enjoy the season.

Early Sunday morning we saw our first measurable snowfall of the meteorological year (July to June for us) and a decent accumulation of glaze ice as well (at least for this time of year). By mid morning on Sunday, fog cleared off to reveal an icy and slightly snowy summit of Mount Washington contrasted by the slight twinge of color starting to show up in the valleys below. This is definitely one of my favorite sights to see on the mountain.

Today was slightly warmer, but the air still had the feeling of fall that I enjoy so much. As I was outside for my observations early this morning, I could see my breath for the first time this season, and it always brings a little smile to my face.

Inevitably, we will experience more summer-like weather before we truly make the turn to full on winter, but in the mean time I will take as many of the days like the last couple as I can!

Observer Footnote: Now through September 19, the Mount Washington Observatory is competing against thousands of nonprofits across the country for a share of $5,000,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest. Nearly 200 charities will be awarded grants through this contest, and Mount Washington Observatory has a legitimate shot at winning a grant of up to $250,000 to support its work in research and education. Grants are awarded to the top vote-getters, so I'm asking for your help. Please cast a vote for the Observatory! To do so go HERE, and hurry, there's only two days left to vote!

Brian Clark – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

20:55 Sun Sep 16th

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Your vote counts and can help put us over the top

If you can give Mount Washington Observatory just 30 seconds of your valuable time you can help us secure a grant from the Chase Community Giving Program. Here's how this program works: Chase has five million dollars they want to give as grants to 196 non-profit organizations that serve their communities in a number of different categories from Education, Animals & Environment, Health, The Arts, Military & Veterans and several more. The rules are simple: The non-profit that gets the most votes by Wednesday September 19th will receive a $250,000 grant - The next ten highest vote getters will receive a $100,000 grant - The next thirty-five vote getters will receive a $50,000 grant - The next fifty vote getters will receive a $20,000 grant and finally the last 100 vote getters will receive a $10,000 grant.

So why doesn't Chase just pick 196 non-profits to give the grants to? Well that's simple - They want to know that the non-profits receiving the grants are valued by their communities and what's the best way to for Chase to know which non-profits are valued most by their respective communities? It's by your vote - It's by you taking 30 seconds to click here and placing a vote for Mount Washington Observatory, please be patiant as it may take a minute for the page to come up. We know you value us because we have over 4000 members that support us financially, nearly 19,000 Facebook fans and our Web site is the most visited Web site in the North Conway area. The challenge here is we need everyone to vote because we're competing with non-profits in very large metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago to name just a few. If everyone that reads this takes just 30 seconds to vote you can help let the fine folks at the Chase Community Giving Program know that Mount Washington Observatory is an important member of the community and that we may be from a small community but that community has a big voice.

So where do we stand right now? Well we're in sixty-first place with 1771 votes which makes us eligible for a $20,000 grant - You may ask what do we need to do to move up, well if every member cast their vote for us right now that would put us in the middle of the $50,000 pack and if all of our Facebook followers cast a vote for us we'd be in the middle of the pack eligible for a $100,000 grant which would be like getting over 1400 new family memberships so please take just a few seconds to cast your vote for a worthy cause.

Roger Pushor – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

16:26 Sat Sep 15th

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A warning sign of the

One of the most common topics of discussion regarding the weather on Mt. Washington is how quickly things can change. The reason the "Rockpile" is home to the "World's Worst Weather" is not only because of the severity of storms, but also because of the rapid deterioration of conditions. The transition from yesterday to today was a prime example of this. High pressure had been providing pleasant weather for the region with clear, sun-filled skies and unseasonably mild temperatures due to a warm southeasterly breeze. A high temperature of 59 degrees was recorded on Friday and winds struggled to reach 15 mph for much of the day. There were times when we almost had to remind each other that it was September 14th, a time when average wind speeds are near 30 mph and average daily temperatures are in the low 40s. Mt. Washington's reputation for poor weather was not to be cast off however, as conditions worsened drastically overnight. By midnight on Saturday, winds had increased to sustained speeds around 40 mph, with gusts in the 50s. Temperatures had plummeted to 45 degrees, 14 degrees cooler than the high for the day. By 6 AM, winds were sustained between 50 and 60 mph with gusts near 70 mph, and temperatures had fallen into the upper 30s. Since then, today has featured foggy conditions with zero visibility, rain showers, and temperatures in the mid 30s that will fall well below freezing tonight, making for icy conditions. Quite the change if you ask me!

So why did this happen, you ask? Well today, class, we will discuss fronts and pressure systems! By definition, fronts are boundaries between air masses, but can also be noted as transition zones depending on the strength of the temperature gradient. There is usually a notable wind shift with the passing of a front, due to the counterclockwise rotation of low pressure systems. Fronts branch out off of low pressure systems, and act as significant weather makers/changers. There are four different types of fronts which you can read about HERE, but to avoid writing a novel I will focus on the front that passed through and caused our weather change, the cold front. Cold fronts mark boundaries where cold air replaces warm air. As warm air gets lifted up over the cold air, the rising motion can act as a mechanism to spur showers or thunderstorms. This is what brought us rain showers this morning. Also, winds shifted behind the front, from southeast to northwest. Depending on the direction of the wind, warm or cold air can be advected (drawn in, essentially) to the area. Our warm temperatures Friday were primarily due to the mild airmass overhead, but were also helped by warm southwesterly flow. As the cold airmass behind the front moved in, winds shifting to the northwest allowed for cold Canadian air to flow into our area, causing our drop in temperature.

That leaves just the winds to be explained. Winds are slightly different, in that they do not necessarily increase or decrease as a result of fronts. Rather, they increase or decrease based upon the pressure gradient between high and low pressure systems (areas of locally higher and lower pressure, respectively). Fluids (air in this case) travel from high to low pressure. When we are between a high pressure system and a low pressure system, we get caught directly in this flow of air that we call wind! The speed of the wind depends on the strengths of the high and low pressure systems. A greater difference equals a stronger gradient, thus equaling stronger winds. Our recent wind increase has come as a result of transitioning from high pressure yesterday, to the low pressure in place today.

This example of how and why conditions change so quickly is all the more reason to plan ahead! By viewing forecasts and having a flexible schedule, you can know days in advance when the weather will be bad and plan around it to have a safe and enjoyable trip to the summit.

Observer Footnote: Now through September 19, the Mount Washington Observatory is competing against thousands of nonprofits across the country for a share of $5,000,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest. Nearly 200 charities will be awarded grants through this contest, and Mount Washington Observatory has a legitimate shot at winning a grant of up to $250,000 to support its work in research and education. Grants are awarded to the top vote-getters, so I'm asking for your help. Please cast a vote for the Observatory! To do so go HERE!,

Stephen Lanciani – Summit Intern

17:17 Fri Sep 14th

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We need your help!

As you know from our website, emails, and Facebook posts, the Observatory is currently competing in the 2012 Chase Community Giving contest.

What you might not know is why an institution like ours has decided to participate in a national contest of this scale. Indeed, the reaction I've heard from many acquaintances is "why the heck are you even bothering with this? Isn't it a shot in the dark?"

In a word, no.

Let me explain. As a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit institution, our funding is derived from a variety of sources: membership dues, donations, fundraising events, corporate sponsorships, grants, educational programs, retail sales, and research contracts. As you can imagine, in a fiscal environment like the one we are currently experiencing, sponsorships, grants, and charitable gifts especially have become increasingly difficult to come by - particularly for a scientific institution. (During times of economic difficulty, statistics show an increase in giving to charities that provide social and medical services, and a decrease in giving to charities such as ours that solve less visceral, immediate social problems.) True, providing food and shelter is a dire need in our society, and we support the charities who provide those important services, but that does not lessen the need for education, research, and increasing our awareness of the weather and climate that dictates our lives and livelihoods, impacting everything from agriculture to foreign policy.

For those not familiar with nonprofit management, a typical grant application process involves significant staff time, involving many steps in several operating areas. Sometimes these efforts pay off, resulting in a grant of some amount. Other times, they do not, and we are back to square one, seeking out and embarking upon another grant application.

When we were contacted to participate in the Chase Community Giving Contest, we were rightly incredulous. At first blush, it seemed as though the odds were against us. But after researching the statistics from past contests, it became increasingly clear that we were good contenders - that we stood an excellent shot at winning a higher- level grant.

At press time, we are in 52nd place, firmly in the $20,000 grant category, but just below the $50,000 category. For a point of reference, $50,000 represents enough funding to support our classroom outreach efforts for a year; enough funding to buy food for the weather station for an entire year, with money left over to put fuel in the snow cat; enough funding to cover free admission to our Weather Discovery Center museum for a year, so we may continue providing this educational experience to the community barrier-free.

$50,000 represents more income than our spring fundraising event, more income than our fall fundraising event, and more income than an average fundraising or membership drive.

$50,000 is a game-changing amount of funding for a small institution like ours, and it is funding that can be derived simply through a few clicks of a mouse by our members and fans. Just a few clicks of a mouse.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I hope it helps explain why we have been asking you all so relentlessly for your help. This is one rare chance when you really and truly can have a lasting impact on a legendary New Hampshire institution. This contest will be won or lost by a matter of just a few votes so... Your vote counts. We hope we can count on you!

Please, cast your vote, then ask your friends and family to do the same. But don't delay - the contest ends on Wednesday.

With your support, we can secure a significant grant for our work on Mount Washington.

Thank you!

Cara Rudio – Marketing and Communications Manager

16:47 Thu Sep 13th

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A Perfect Day for Flying a Kite

It's 60 degrees, the winds are low and visibility is over 100 miles in every direction. It's days like these that make it easy to forget about the dead of winter and the frozen insides of turbulent clouds. It may not be the most extreme weather day up here on Mount Washington, but as I train and study for my METAR certification, it begs the question: Why do we take weather observations?

First, for those of you who are not familiar with what METAR (translated sometimes as Meteorological Aerodrome Report) is, simply put, it's a standardized code that expresses current weather data that is mostly used by pilots and meteorologists. As you can imagine for pilots it's extremely important to know current weather in your flight path for a safe trip, and for meteorologists it's important to have a standard language to communicate to the National Weather Service with, along with other national and international weather organizations. By having a standard code we communicate with our regional National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine, which allows them to disseminate current weather conditions on the summit here, as well as give them important data for forecasting.

Now to get at the bigger question, we take hourly weather observations for much the same reason that we have a standard weather code. Weather stations, both automated and manual (human-powered), take weather observations every hour of every day mostly as a means of letting you and I know what the weather is like at the same time. This data is invaluable, not just to the National Weather Service but to answering more questions like: Is it safe to hike to the summit today? Or perhaps more importantly: Is today a good day for flying kites on Mount Washington?

Here's an example of one of our METARs from today:

METAR - 131955Z 26018G22KT 100SM FEW220 FEW250 14/08 RMK

"131955Z" is the time of the observation, so in this case 13 (the day of the month), followed by the time of day, 1955Z, which is Zulu or UTC time. In eastern daylight savings time (EDT), this would be 3:55PM.

"26018G22KT" talks about the wind, where 260 is the direction the wind is coming from (so just south of due west), and 18 refers to an 18 knot wind, gusting to 22 knots.

"100SM" refers to our visibility, so in this case 100 statute miles.

"FEW220 FEW250" talks about the condition of the sky, where FEW220 means there are a few clouds (covering 1/8 or 2/8's of the sky) at 22,000 feet above our station, and FEW250 means a few clouds at 25,000 feet.

"14/08" is our temperature on the left, followed by the dewpoint on the right in, both in celsius.

"RMK" is the Remark section, where if we had a special remark, like "PTCHY VAL FG ALQDS" or "Patchy Valley Fog All Quads" we could share it.

Observer Footnote: Now through September 19, the Mount Washington Observatory is competing against thousands of nonprofits across the country for a share of $5,000,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest. Nearly 200 charities will be awarded grants through this contest, and Mount Washington Observatory has a legitimate shot at winning a grant of up to $250,000 to support its work in research and education. Grants are awarded to the top vote-getters, so I'm asking for your help. Please cast a vote for the Observatory! To do so go HERE!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

23:17 Wed Sep 12th

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A haze-free sunset this afternoon.

When we arrived on the summit today for shift change, the horizon was muddled with a milky white haze to the east and a brownish-red haze in all our other quadrants. For those who have worked here a while, this haze looked a bit familiar, but I didn't want to just make assumptions as to what we were seeing. And I know, saying I don't work off assumptions is a funny thing to say since I'm a meteorologist and I work off certain assumptions when forecasting, but that's when you are looking ahead and not examining the present. So I started looking at the various satellite loops and our hypothesis proved to be correct - it appeared that the cause of this unusual hued horizon was the result of diluted smoke from the numerous wildfires burning in the upper Northwest US and Canada. While it made for a muddled and unique scene, it was not a scene that I was looking forward to especially when some of my friends on Facebook were posting such awesome photos from the various summits the days before. But I quickly reminded myself that this is New England and (as it was quoted in yesterday's comment as well) if you don't like the weather, just give it a minute; unfortunately, the change that comes could be better or worst. In the case of today though, things got better over the course of the day as the wind patterns shifted slightly from the northwest to a purely westerly direction. While the shift was small it was enough to allow for the smoke and haze that arrived in the morning to blow out and it kept the remaining gunk from the west confined to our north, returning our unlimited views once again by the afternoon. But, that was today, so who knows what visibility tomorrow might bring.

Observer Footnote: Now through September 19, the Mount Washington Observatory is competing against thousands of nonprofits across the country for a share of $5,000,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest. Nearly 200 charities will be awarded grants through this contest, and Mount Washington Observatory has a legitimate shot at winning a grant of up to $250,000 to support its work in research and education. Grants are awarded to the top vote-getters, so I'm asking for your help. Please cast a vote for the Observatory! To do so go HERE!

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

23:10 Tue Sep 11th

"Variety is the spice of life." Volunteering for the OBS on the summit of Mt Washington, we have experienced a variety of weather conditions this week from being "in the clouds" to 120 mile visibility with a magnificent sunrise through the rime ice, to winds gusting to 80 mph, as well as our first thunder and lightning storm on the summit.

Thursday, we were blessed to witness the first ever Naturalization Ceremony on the summit as 20 men and women from 14 countries took the Oath to become US citizens on the Observatory Deck.

Saturday, flags were flown on the 48 summits as a memorial to 9/11. Erecting and maintaining the huge flag on the Rockpile was indeed a challenge in the fog and high winds that included the gust to 80 mph. Later that day, heavy rain and an evening lightning storm resulted in canceling the mountaintop festivities of the Sunset Soiree with our pouring of the champagne toast. Instead, we enjoyed watching both the excitement building in the darkened weather room as the meteorologists anticipated the first strikes of lightning, and their love and appreciation of extreme weather.

Observers Steve and Mike have been a constant in our four years of volunteering and it is always good to see their familiar faces when we arrive. It was a pleasure meeting Becca and Samantha and to help initiate Mike in his first days of internship. We only hope Steve will allow us back next year after using up all the peanut butter in Monster Cookies!!

We arrived in the clouds and will be leaving the Rockpile under clear sunny skies. As they say here in NH, "if you don't like the weather, just wait a minute." It has been so true this week but "Variety is the spice of life!"

Sharon Camp & Sandy Fisher – Summit Volunteers

15:14 Mon Sep 10th

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A diagram of thunderstorm formation

As summer slowly fades to winter, I am reminded of summer days full of warmth, travel and, best of all, thunderstorms. Although my parents' dog doesn't like it too much, whenever I see the little red line of severe weather barreling towards me on the radar I can't help but get excited.

There are a few ways these severe storms can form. Most common on hot and humid days, the ground soaks up the sun throughout the day, quickly warming the air next to the ground. Just like a hot air balloon on a cold morning, this warm air rises past its cool surroundings. As it rises and expands, it slowly cools. If, at any point, this air reaches surrounding air that is the same temperature, it will stop rising. In this case, the atmosphere is considered 'stable'. If, instead, the rising air cools at a slower rate than the air that surrounds it (eg, it is always warmer than the air around it), then it will continue rising.

Colder air cannot hold as much moisture in it as warm air, so once the air rises high enough and cools past its saturation point, a cloud will form. When water molecules in the air condense to form a cloud, they release a small amount of heat, warming the cloud even more and allowing it to rise even further. Cumulonimbus clouds can continue this pattern, rising to extreme heights.

Our atmosphere is broken into different levels. The troposphere, where almost all our clouds occur, spans from sea level to up to 50,000 feet. In the troposphere, air is generally cooler with higher altitude due to a decrease in pressure. However immediately above this level, the air is thick with ozone which absorbs much of the sun's radiation, warming the upper level of air.

Once a cumulonimbus cloud reaches the top of the troposphere, the air surrounding it will soon match the temperature of the rising air. At this point, the rising air below it pushes the air to the side, allowing the cloud to 'pool' on the underside of the stratosphere. This causes the anvil shape of a stereotypical cumulonimbus cloud. Once precipitation starts to form, rain and hail can fall through the cloud, causing a downdraft and destroying the updraft that formed the cloud. At this point, without any more warm rising air to fuel the storm, the cloud quickly dissipates. This whole process is usually very fast and takes less than two hours.

Although it seems like thunderstorm season is nearing an end, I'm looking forward to the big storms which winter has in store for us!

Mike Dorfman – Summit Intern

16:33 Sun Sep 9th

What a difference a day makes. After all the recent mild muggy conditions it was so refreshing stepping outside this morning and breathing in some cool crisp air for a change. It really felt very Fall like with temperatures in the mid-30s and haze free unrestricted views of the surrounding mountains. The storms that came through yesterday evening certainly scoured the air mas out and with a temperature drop of ten degrees in an hour we knew a big change was on the way.

On Friday I watched a couple of Merlins chasing each other round and round the summit cone. Their aerobatic display was really impressive to watch as they swooped and stooped repeatedly. After they eventually glided off I realized that it is yet another sign of the changing season as many birds are now heading south to escape the cold that will soon be upon us. In a few short weeks the trees will be in their Fall colors too.

Oh and the latest weather models are predicting we will be right around the freezing mark tomorrow morning....

Steve Welsh – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

15:49 Sat Sep 8th

Welcome to a foggy day on top of the Rock Pile! Stepping outside this morning was a harsh reminder of the ever-changing weather on top of this mountain. Yesterday's clear skies and beautiful views quickly turned into gusty winds and thick fog overnight. I (the new intern) even had to wander around a bit to find the precipitation can outside the building!

Living at the top is a unique experience. In the evening, I've found myself in the observer's quarters downstairs lying back on a couch reading a book, and I rarely even recognize the fact that I'm in such an extreme environment. My bedroom is equipped with 2 sets of windows and a gap of about 10 inches between them, which helps isolate me from the sound of the wind outside. Even on the summit, it is easy to forget that the balmy 50 degree days of summer are slowly fading to the cold and windy days of winter.

Observer Footnote

Now through September 19, Mount Washington Observatory is competing against thousands of nonprofits across the country for a share of $5,000,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest. Nearly 200 charities will be awarded grants through this contest, and Mount Washington Observatory has a legitimate shot at winning a grant of up to $250,000 to support its work in research and education. Grants are awarded to the top vote-getters, so I'm asking for your help. Please cast a vote for the Observatory! To do so, visit.

Mike Dorfman – Summit Intern

17:25 Fri Sep 7th

Back on the summit again and off to a great start to the week. Yesterday I had a very special visitor that was here to film a promotional video that will be featured on the Miss USA YouTube channel in the coming months. Miss New Hampshire, Meagan Lyman was here with an unusual request outside the basic description of what I do here on the summit. Luckily it was something that I have done in the past and could pull off. What is it you might ask? Well I can't say just yet but you will be sure to know when it is posted on YouTube!

Observer Footnotes

Less than 10 tickets still remain for this Saturday's Sunset Soiree. So, act now and claim yours before it is too late!

Now through September 19, Mount Washington Observatory is competing against thousands of nonprofits across the country for a share of $5,000,000 through the Chase Community Giving contest. Nearly 200 charities will be awarded grants through this contest, and Mount Washington Observatory has a legitimate shot at winning a grant of up to $250,000 to support its work in research and education. Grants are awarded to the top vote-getters, so I'm asking for your help. Please cast a vote for the Observatory! To do so, visit

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

09:06 Thu Sep 6th

MWO Friends and Supporters,

Today is a big day for the Observatory. It's the start of the Chase Community Giving contest, where we are competing with nonprofits from all across the nation for a share of $5,000,000 in grants. Believe it or not, we have a legitimate shot at winning an unrestricted grant of up to $250,000 to support our work in research and education. All we need is your vote!

This is the easiest possible way to support the Observatory! To participate, simply click the 'Help Us Win' banner on our website, and then follow the simple instructions. All told, it's just a couple clicks of the mouse. It's that easy!

Our goal is 20,000 votes, so we're casting the net far and wide, promoting this effort on the web, Facebook, email, radio, print, in our museums, everywhere we can…and your vote will help us reach our goal. To double the promotional impact and double our reach, we've partnered with the American Hiking Society, combining our forces to have the widest possible impact. Each participant can cast TWO votes on Facebook and TWO votes on the Chase website (Chase customers only). When you cast your vote for the Observatory, please be sure to do the same for AHS. They're asking their members and fans to do the same for us.

It all needs to happen by September 19, so click away! And thanks for your support of this great nonprofit institution.

Scot Henley – Executive Director

23:20 Wed Sep 5th

With the month of September in full swing, 'transition' is the word.

The days are growing shorter, the temperatures just a little cooler, and the autumn rains have commenced.

Up on the summit, the Auto Road is closing a little earlier, the volume of visitors has noticeably decreased, and the number of hikers is dwindling.

Inside the Observatory, work has begun on wintertime projects, preparations in anticipation of snowfall have started, and our fall interns have replaced our summertime ones.

When my shift left the summit last Wednesday, temperatures had bottomed out below freezing overnight, and some light icing had accumulated on the deck and a few other surfaces. After some warm and wet weather for the first few days of this shift, it looks like a strong cold front on Saturday will bring some more chilly weather early next work-week.

We're talking Sunset Soiree, we're talking rime ice, and we're talking snow chains. As quickly as last winter seemed to fade into what has proven to be a pleasant summer, the warm temperatures and sunny skies will just as promptly make way for winter's harsh retribution, in the form of plentiful snowfall and frigid temperatures.

Mt. Washington is the proverbial harbinger of winter for New England, so we'll be lucky enough to witness this annual transition first!

Observer Footnote: Less than 10 tickets still remain for this Saturday's Sunset Soiree. So, act now and claim yours before it is too late!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

23:03 Tue Sep 4th

Yes, it's time to hit the road. This is our seventh day on the mountain. We are sore from hiking to the Lakes of the Clouds and down by the Great Gulf where we were warned of a bear sighting. We have survived it all with humor and awe of the changing weather, from sunrise to sunset and everything in between. Winds were ferocious the first two days with gusts up to 85 mph - it sounded like a railroad train.

The crew was fun and helpful as usual. Cooking for the crew has been good, especially for a VIP group of four for lunch earlier in the week. We made French Onion Soup with crostini/melted Swiss, anadama bread, fresh mushroom quiche and hermit cookies and blueberry cake for desert.

Our guest was the President of the Observatory, Jack Middleton whose wife was the daughter of Joe Dodge. She is featured on the cover of the summer edition of the current "Windswept" magazine. William Putnam was also a guest and a friend of Joe Dodge. He wrote the article on Annie Middleton for the summer quarterly bulletin of WINDSWEPT. He is also the author of the book "Joe Dodge", who began the hut system and the Mount Washington Observatory.

Volunteering for the Observatory is a great way to donate your time and energy. It is a great way to find out about the organization and what they are all about. It's an adventure of a lifetime!

Observer Footnote: Less than 10 tickets still available for this Saturdays Sunset Soiree. So act now before it is too late!

Arline France & Priscilla Simm – Summit Volunteers

16:30 Mon Sep 3rd

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Sunrise this morning at the right place and time.

I've heard it been said that luck is being in the right place at the right time but location and timing are in some extent under our control. If this is true, I was either lucky two separate times last night or I had really good control over my location and timing. Working up here, I tend to put more on the side of luck than anything else. People who frequent our Facebook page or these Observer Comments are familiar with the pictures we post. While I can't speak for everyone who shoots up here, I know personally, anything I photograph and post is unplanned and mostly luck. I just go out, shoot, shoot, shoot...and then come back in and hope I luck out and get something interesting to post from the right place at the right time. But let me illustrate what I mean with my two examples I mentioned earlier.

Example 1: Last night, I was walking on the deck and felt my foot slip a bit. The two thoughts that flashed into my mind were (a) I gained a lot of instantaneous swagger or (b) there was frost forming on the deck. I wanted to go with the first thought, but knowing that we are heading into fall, the second seemed more likely. What was odd and puzzling at first was the ambient air temperature of 40F when frost needs to be closer to freezing to form. So, how could this be? It all came down to right place at the right time. The skies were clear, and where the frost was forming was in the shadow of the physical summit and the Tip Top House, making it a wind wind free location - literally - I took a handheld anemometer out there to confirm this. This wind free location allowed the tiles of the deck to radiate out their heat and as the cold night air sank in this windless location, the temperature right at ground level reached freezing allowing the water vapor in the air to crystallize into frost. While the ground at this location was at freezing, when you took the ambient air temperature above it at a height of 4-6 feet off the ground, it was inverted and still reading 40F. As a result of the warmer air aloft, areas that were experiencing a draft were mixing well enough to allow for wet or dry tiles across the remainder of the deck. It was an interesting sight but a common occurrence this time of year on summits and valleys (think of when your car windows are frosted over but nothing else is). So, for this small patch of frost, it formed at the right place at the right time, with me being at the right place at the right time to witness and photograph it.

Example 2: Growing up in California, we had an occurrence twice a year in which the setting sun would hit Horsetail Falls in Yosemite just right that it would glow a brilliant orange or yellow, giving it the appearance of the Firefalls that used to be man-made in the park. A brilliant sight to behold that is all about being at the right place at the right time to witness it. A similar artificial event involving the setting sun at the right place at the right time on the east coast is "Manhattanhenge". This is a biannual event in which the sun sets at just the right location that it aligns with the east-west orientation of the streets, shining straight down them. On the summit, we have a similar biannual event but it involves a rising sun and being at the right place at the right time to witness its occurrence; and that day was today. In what I have dubbed "Obshenge", the rising sun, twice a year, aligns with our Weather Observatories semi-east-west oriented hallway (it curves slightly), allowing for the rays of light to shine straight down it. While neat to see, what I like about it even more is it allows for a scaled sunrise on our topography map.

So, these were two events last night/this morning that were all about being at the right place at the right time. Was it all about luck or was I subconsciously seeking out these events. I'm going to continue to say it was all about luck but you can think what you want. Either way, I was happy to be up here to witness and photograph these two events which in turn allows me to share them with you in this Observer Comments blog in the form of words and pictures.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:10 Sun Sep 2nd

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Brian Clark hard at work on his last ObsCast

A lot has changed since I left the summit in April, but here at the Observatory I find myself once again focusing on the intricacies of the weather. For those loyal followers of the Mount Washington Observatory, you may recall another Brian on the summit this past winter, Brian Fitzgerald, the Winter Intern. Well after a fun spring and summer hiking and teaching around the White Mountains for the Appalachian Mountain Club- I'm back! Sadly, longtime Weather Observer, Education Specialist and Shift Leader Brian Clark will be leaving us at the beginning of October (members, stay tuned for his last and greatest hits ObsCast!). So to keep things simple, the Observatory hired another Brian. While my experience pales in comparison to the other Brian's, I'm excited nonetheless and eager to build my observational abilities. As I train to effectively observe and disseminate the weather, it's incredible and down-right daunting how much information, codes and procedures a trained weather observer needs to have in their head. For those of you who are interested in seeing just what I mean, follow the link to the Federal Meteorological Handbook (my new light reading...). And of course for those of you who would much rather experience the brutal, beautiful weather of Mount Washington first hand, visit MountWashington.org for more information about becoming a member, visiting the summit or visiting our Weather Discovery Center in North Conway.

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

19:39 Sat Sep 1st

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Waiting for geographic Summit - Tower in the back

Labor Day weekend is the last big weekend of the summer before all of the kids who haven't already gone back to school head back so the Summit has been bustling with visitors today and with tomorrow predicted to be partly sunny I would expect more of the same tomorrow.

As you can see from the picture the line to get to the geographic summit has been long today. After making their way up the mountain everybody wants to get their picture taken at the highest point east of the Mississippi and north of the Carolinas - Well here's the first secret - The geographic summit is at 6288 feet above mean sea level however the top of the Observatory Instrument tower is at 6310 feet above mean sea level so that's 22 feet higher if you want bragging rights for having your picture taken at the highest point all be it man made north of the Carolinas and east of the Mississippi. Now here is the second secret - If you're a member of the Observatory you can get a complementary guided tour of the inner workings of the Observatory which includes access to the top of the instrument tower if you have time for that. If you bring your own camera it makes for a great souvenir shot. And guess what - There's no waiting line for Observatory tours - Just go down to the Observatory Museum and check in with one of the attendants' and they'll get you on the next tour which is usually at five past the hour unless you came to the Summit by Cog Railway or Auto Road Stage Auto Road Stage than we may need to make special arrangements to work with your transportations schedule.

Roger Pushor – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

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