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Observer Comments

April 2013

14:52 Tue Apr 30th

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Skiing in the Snowfields

This, like all my shifts as a Summit Volunteer, started with an early morning drive from Waterbury Center, Vermont, to the Auto Road base. From there things started to change as I met new staff and my volunteer partner, Neil. We loaded our gear and this week's food into the van and pickup truck. This trip up the Auto Road was in two phases, 1st we drove the van as far as the Horn near the 4,000 foot level, where the snow tractor was parked. We transferred our gear and supplies to the snow tractor and headed for the summit. We passed the Auto Road crew hard at work clearing snow from the road with a bucket loader and a snow tractor. Although it was overcast, we could see down into Great Gulf and over to Boot Spur. One of the things that I have always enjoyed about the trip up is the speed at which the snow tractor or van is off loaded at the Summit and reloaded with gear and trash for the trip down. A human chain is formed and everything is unloaded and loaded quickly with no problems at all.

I was hoping that the weather and snow conditions would permit me to do some skiing while I was on the summit. While we started off with some fog and moderate winds, we have had temperatures in the 30's and 40's with mostly clear skies for the rest of the week. The snow conditions have been great, and I have been able to get out and ski the East Snowfields which are in outstanding conditions with snow starting 40' from the Auto Road and going down to within 100 yards of the Alpine Garden Trail. Marty too has been great. He enjoys his human pets and is always ready for some ear scratching or chin rubbing. He joined me on the deck one evening before supper, meowing as he came across the deck to where I was standing at the rail to see what I was doing. Quickly determining that it did not involve food or ear scratching, he drifted away and returned to his rounds.

Yesterday Mike Kyle, Neil and I walked down the Auto Road to Six Mile. We then turned around and started harvesting the stakes that marked the side of the road as we walked back up. We stockpiled them in one location so State Parks could pick them up to be reused next winter. The Auto Road crew was at Six Mile clearing the last major stretch of snow and ice. It might be possible that when we head to the bottom tomorrow we will be able to make the whole trip by van. I guess we will have to wait and see.

My thanks to Becca, Ryan, Kyle, and Neil for an outstanding experience on the Summit with the MWO. The Mount Washigton Observatory is a wonderful organization. I urge you to become a member which will help support their mission. And consider volunteering, it is one of the best experiences I have ever had. Until next year!

Observer Footnote: Our Fiscal Year-End drive is coming to an end tonight at midnight, and we need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount here. As a nonprofit, member supported institution, we need your help to continue our work! Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

Steve Hill – Summit Volunteer

16:35 Mon Apr 29th

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Melting Ice

Simplicity is sort of a lost art these days. I am fortunate to be on The Rock Pile this time of year. I have gotten a unique opportunity to watch what can be the harshest of all winters on this planet morph into a gentler, more forgiving spring. While here this week, I've listened as ice turned to frigid water and cold snows disappear.

Replacing the snow and ice is budding life, the birth of Spring, so complicated, yet so simple if you try not to understand why it happens, just except the fact and rejoice in the realization that it does happen, year after year. Here on Mount Washington the most adventurous of skiers refuse to let Winter go into its annual hibernation. They come to enjoy the soft snows of spring and enjoy skiing as it was invented to be, free of lifts, crowds, ropes and rules. Ski it if you can!

And lastly, as winter melts away and temperatures rise, it marks the beginning of the tourist season. Hikers arrive in masses, the Mount Washington Auto Road will bring cars up by the thousands and the Cog Railway chugs its way up the tracks to the summit.

The Mount Washington I lived on in January and the Mt Washington I experienced during the initial part of this week when it snowed and the wind chill was below zero, is in it's seasonal transition. Like the melting ice and the budding greens, the human factor of The Rock Pile, while not always the most welcome sight, is also beautiful in its simplicity.

Neil Lovett – Summit Volunteer

18:18 Sun Apr 28th

I decide to take advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday and hike to Mount Jefferson. I left early in the morning and when I returned that afternoon, I found a different Mountain Washington. As Observer Rebecca mentioned yesterday, the summit of Mount Washington has preliminarily begun its summer 2013 season (however, it should be noted that the Sherman Adams building isn't 100% open quite yet). As the days continue to get longer and the weather nicer, more and more people are making their way up to the summit. With the Cog Railway running and the Mount Washington Auto Road soon to follow, the methods of transportation are increasing. The summit is no longer the isolated peak it has been all winter long.

Being a winter intern at the Mount Washington Observatory, it's a strange transition to see. Since I started here in January, I have not seen many tourists because the only way to reach the summit was hiking or on one of our trips. With harsh winter conditions and the lack of open facilities, winter hikers tend to silently summit without the Observers noticing. However, that all changed yesterday when I returned from my hike and saw dozens of people walking around the summit. It was clear that they got here via a different method too. Those hiking or skiing up, I have grown accustomed to seeing, but those on the Cog Railway I have not. It's the sign the summit is no longer isolated and summer is approaching.

It's great to see the changing season and the summit more accessible to the public. The White Mountains are an amazing place and Mount Washington is one of the best places to enjoy the views. With several convenient methods of reaching the summit, it might be time for you to make a trip up here!

Observer Footnote: Our Fiscal Year-End drive is coming to an end on April 30th, and we need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount here. As a nonprofit, member supported institution, we need your help to continue our work! Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

Michael Kyle – Summit Intern

16:43 Sat Apr 27th

'Summer' has arrived on the summit. Not in the meteorological or astronomical sense, but in how our summit is managed. For the first time this 'summer' season, the Mount Washington Cog Railway ran two passenger trains to the summit today. Walking out onto the observation deck I was greeted with hikers and tourists; something that hasn't happened since November. With this changing of the season, a few other things changed today. For one, Marty is now wearing his ID tags around his neck to let people know his name and that he lives up here with us. Second, the ropes around our deck instruments have been put back up. With sensitive instrumentation recording the weather, it is important to keep the foot traffic down around them; so the ropes mark off the areas people are not allowed. In the coming days, I'm sure more and more people will venture to the summit. However, a word of advise: remember your jacket, hat and gloves (because it's still cold up here)!

Observer Footnote: Our Fiscal Year-End drive is coming to an end on April 30th, and we need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount here. As a nonprofit, member supported institution, we need your help to continue our work! Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

10:48 Fri Apr 26th

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Marty Enjoying The Spring Weather

A big hearty meow from your favorite summit cat Marty! After a long winter spring seems to be making its way back to the summit of Mount Washington. The observers have been saying that the Mount Washington Auto Road has been working hard to clear the snow off the road so they can open soon and the Cog Railway is planning on opening this weekend. Before we know it all summit entities, the Auto Road , Cog Railway , and the Sherman Adams building will be open and you, my adoring fans can make your way back to visit me. Let's be honest, I know I am really the main attraction.

This past Wednesday was a purr-fect spring day with a high of 48 degrees with light winds and clear skies. It was the nicest day of the year to date, at least that I can remember. It was even so nice I went outside to explore the summit cone and see if any vermin have been trying to get into the Sherman Adams building. After my inspection it seems that they have learned from their missing peers and are staying out. It's great to see, but now it will be harder to lose my winter belly. Observer Ryan told me I'm going to have to go back to the Cat-kins diet.

To read more about what I've been up to, check out my "Marty's Mewsings" article in this upcoming summer's Windswept . In addition to my article there are several other great articles about the weather and life on the summit at the Mount Washington Observatory's . Plus purr special request, there is a great article on visibility and what landmarks the Observers use to judge the visibility from the summit. If you don't receive the Windswept newsletter and want to, all you have to do is become a Member of the Mount Washington Observatory and you'll start to receive the newsletter plus many other great benefits.

That's all I have for meow. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone on the summit.

Observer Footnote: Our Fiscal Year-End drive is coming to an end on April 30th, and we need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount here. As a nonprofit, member supported institution, we need your help to continue our work! Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

Marty – Summit Cat

17:24 Thu Apr 25th

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Change Over a Week

What a difference a week can make on the summit. When I arrived yesterday, the summit was a whole new world. The snow pack had dramatically decreased and the temperatures had risen into the forties. Winds were calm and visibility was ninety miles proving to be a beautiful day. As I have been saying in my past comments, I am excited to have spring on the way. The early summer hiking season will soon be upon us and it will be important to be prepared. As temperatures warm up in the valley the summit will still have it's cold and harsh days. As you head out to soak up the beautiful weather on Mount Washington, be sure you are prepared and check the forecast prior to heading up.

Observer Footnote: Our Fiscal Year-End drive is coming to an end on April 30th, and we need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount here. As a nonprofit, member supported institution we need your help to continue our work! Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

23:43 Wed Apr 24th

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A view from today.

Everybody has their own opinion as to what it means to have "perfect" weather. To a farmer dependent on rain, a rainy day may be perfect. For fans of the beach, it might be a sunny day with temperatures in the 90's. For an ice climber, cold and icy is what they would find ideal. For a sailor, an ideal day would have stiff enough winds to move their boat at a good pace with minimal choppiness. And for some, like myself, today could be classified as a "perfect" weather kind of day.

After a cloudy start to the day, skies cleared out providing ample amounts of spring time sunshine. Winds diminished to calm and then remained low through the better part of the day. And since it is still spring, this meant that despite the calm winds, there were no bugs swarming us yet. Temperatures rose into the 40s for most of the day. This might sound cold to some but 40's with light winds are great to hike/back country ski/board in - it's cool enough to keep you cool while out and about but warm enough to be out and about in with minimal layers. Vistas were unlimited allowing for great views all around. The air was sweetened by the surrounding wet ground from the melting snow pack. Birds could be heard and could be seen chasing each other like children on a playground. It was just one of those kinds of days that just put you in a euphoric state of mind all around.

But like all good things, todays "perfect" weather is about to come to an end overnight into tomorrow. A passing cold front will return clouds and eventually summit fog. Rain showers will spread in then transition to snow by the morning hours. Winds will continue to build then remain elevated through tomorrow. Temperatures will be more seasonable as they fall to the 20s with wind chill values nearing the zero degree mark. So in general our weather tomorrow will be more winter-like than spring-like and less than "perfect" to me. But far be it from me to say that tomorrow won't be "perfect" either; it's all just in the eye of the beholder. So, if you find tomorrows weather to be "perfect," hopefully you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed today.

Observer footnote: Our Fiscal Year-End drive is coming to an end on April 30th, and we need your support. Please make a tax-deductible donation of any amount here. As a nonprofit, member supported institution we need your help to continue our work! Thank you in advance for your support and generosity.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

11:26 Tue Apr 23rd

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Clouds building in this morning

It certainly has been an interesting and busy week on the summit for my first shift, with plenty of weather to go around. Out of the past 6 days we've spent on the summit, only a single day (Monday) saw no fog or precipitation. Measurable precipitation fell on 4 out of the past 6 days, with 3 out of those 4 days containing freezing rain or snow. Winds were also gusty almost all week, with only Monday not seeing a gust above hurricane force (74 mph or greater).

With so much weather going on this week, its been very challenging forecasting at times. Today for example our area is squeezed between two storm systems, with one coming up the coast of New England and a cold front to our west slowly approaching. In between these two systems high pressure is attempting to keep both storms at bay, but it's a losing battle. From the summit this morning we could see clouds building into the area from the southeast thanks to the coastal storm. Most of the models wanted to keep these clouds far to our southeast today and have the summit remain out of the fog, but it became clear by mid morning the models underestimated how far inland the clouds and potentially precipitation would make it. Fog quickly overtook the summit by late morning, far earlier than any of the models had predicted.

As a meteorologist on the summit of Mount Washington, you have to take these things in stride. There are still many things about the weather that we do not understand, especially in a place like Mount Washington where the weather on the summit is almost always different than the rest of the entire Northeast. We certainly have come a long way in our understanding of the atmosphere, but in many ways its also exciting to know that there's still more to be learned and discovered about our planet's weather.

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

10:10 Mon Apr 22nd

This shift's weather has certainly proven to be all over the place.

As if Mt. Washington would have it any differently in April, we've run the gamut in the type of things we've experienced this week.

Upon arrival on Wednesday, the summit was socked in the fog, with gusty northwest winds, and temperatures in the 20s. Later in the day, fog cleared, revealing mostly sunny skies with slackening winds.

On Thursday, winds shifted around to the southwest as a warm front approached, which sent temperatures soaring into the 30s. Overnight, the mercury continued to rise, maxing out around 40F, with continued thick fog.

As for Friday, temperatures remained in excess of 40F for most of the day, maxing out at 47F--some 20+ degrees above the daily average temperature. Rain showers began to develop during the afternoon, and continued through the overnight ahead of an impending cold front.

The front prompted temperatures to plunge into the teens by daybreak on Saturday, with winds continuing to gust in excess of 90 mph, and early freezing rain quickly changing over to snow. After a brief period of clearing in the evening, a second cold front charged through, sending temperatures into the single digits overnight, with more snow showers. Our minimum overnight temperature of 4F was only a few degrees shy of a daily record low.

Sunday saw morning snow showers give way to afternoon sunshine, with visibility jumping from 50 feet to 100 miles. Winds dropped off through the day, becoming light and variable overnight into this morning.

After the first two-thirds of the shift landed us mostly in the fog, we're expecting the final few days to be decidedly clearer as a very strong high pressure ridge builds in to New England.

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

22:04 Sun Apr 21st

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Filling Out Paperwork During the Night Shift

The night observer's schedule is very unique. Heading to bed at around 4 AM and waking up between 11 and 1, there's no need to set an alarm clock in the morning at the cost of having to stay awake extremely late. The sleep adjustment that the night observer goes through on a weekly basis is the equivalent to the jet lag from travelling back and forth from Western Europe, but adjusting becomes easier with practice.

Just like during the day, the night observer must go outside every hour to take an observation. This is done with relative ease on foggy nights when the measured parameters, such as visibility and cloud cover, are very clear-cut. On clear nights however, the night observer must wait for 10-15 minutes for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. To facilitate this process, red tinted lights are installed in the weather room, allowing the night observer's workspace to be transformed into an eerie, darkroom-like abode.

As a new night observer, I am just starting to get used to the new schedule and responsibilities. Between the red lights, the loud cracks the building makes due to thermal expansion, and the theoretical haunting of the summit, the night shift in the Sherman Adam's building can be a bit intimidating. I am sure I will quickly get used to the new schedule and learn to appreciate the peace that the summit at night has to offer.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

17:14 Sat Apr 20th

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Note the massive temperature slide after midnight!

Much to the chagrin of a certain observer we've seen a dramatic shift in temperatures up here today as a very potent cold front passed through overnight. At this time yesterday we were in a thick and soupy, albeit warm, fog on our way to a 47 degree maximum temperature for the day. I was just crazy and desperate enough for warm weather that I resorted to shedding the winter EMS gear for shorts and short sleeves for our brief (two minute) observations outside (note: this is would not be appropriate for anyone outside for any longer than I was, especially today). As thrilling as this was, sadly no less than 12 hours later it was back to my insulated Vasque boots and EMS down parka for each trip outdoors. Between midnight and 8:00 AM this morning the mercury tumbled 28 degrees as gusty westerly winds peaked near 91MPH resulting in below zero wind chills once more this season.

If it sounds like I'm ready for Spring, well, I am, though let's all take a second to realize that Mount Washington does not typically acknowledge that season (or really Autumn either). Our average temperature for an entire year rounds to roughly 27 degrees- so maybe it's time to find a new line of work, though something tells me I'm not the only on the summit with Spring fever. At least the Presi's are starting to look like spring (minus the ice).

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

15:00 Fri Apr 19th

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Free Flowing!

The great melt-out on the summit has commenced!

With temperatures soaring into the 40s today, all of the snow and ice that has built up in recent months is quickly reducing itself to lots of streams of flowing water.

Quite a bit of rain, with perhaps a few thunderstorms, are expected tonight, which could exacerbate the already-building problem of: where will the water go? In an effort to stave off any flooding that could occur in our building, the staff has worked extra hard today to make sure that water is freely flowing downhill and away from our mountaintop station. In some cases, this has meant digging through feet of snow to create man-made trenches which we refer to as water bars.

These water bars will permit melting snow (and eventually rainfall) to flow freely away from the building, instead of into it.

Now that our arms are tired from digging out all of this snow and ice, we can kick back, relax, and wait to see what kind of interesting weather comes our way tonight.

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

23:57 Thu Apr 18th

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Cog Rail Workers Clearing the Tracks

It has been far too long since I have spent a night on the summit, and I have to admit, I picked a great time to be up here. Winter has held a tight grasp on the area like it has across many parts of the country, but summer is on the horizon. We are slowly seeing the summit transform from a winter wonderland in several ways. For just over two weeks now, the Auto Road has been digging through the snow and ice. They are working on the infamous 5-mile and Cragway sections, and I can't wait to take some photos of the snow depth once they reach the road below. The State Park has also been getting ready for opening day by refinishing the floors, cleaning, and organizing the Sherman Adams building. Today, the Cog Railway made it just a few hundred feet from the summit. The tracks are completely drifted over in places and they worked very hard to shovel through some icy sections today.

For Mount Washington Observatory, it's business as usual. We have no volunteers this week and trip season has officially come to a close, so it's a quiet place to be. I'm checking several items off my work to-do list up here but am also taking the time to enjoy the smaller things, such as playing with Marty, cooking dinner, standing in hurricane force winds, and spending time with our wonderful observers. The summit is a magnificent place to be and while I'm here I truly feel alive. If you've had the privilege of spending some time up here, hopefully you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

17:10 Wed Apr 17th

Shift change day today saw a few additional faces: some new, some old, and even a bit of both. Today is the beginning of my second summer internship at the summit of Mount Washington. After my internship here in the summer of 2011, I returned to school at Penn State to finish my degree in meteorology. Little did I know two years later the opportunity to return to the summit would arise, and I'm very happy to be a part of this great organization once more. Because I'm starting nearly a month earlier than my last internship it will also be very interesting seeing the transition from full winter conditions to spring and summer through the coming months.

It turns out I wasn't the only familiar face returning to the summit this morning, as Mike Finnegan and his girlfriend Emily came up to visit today as well. Mike was just leaving the observatory during my internship in 2011 and it was a pleasant surprise seeing another familiar face. I also was able to meet the new Director of Summit Operations, Cyrena. Cyrena is even staying the first few nights this week, which will help to get me re-adjusted to the summit routine. Quite a few things have changed in these past 2 years at the observatory, but the most important thing will always remain the same: Mount Washington itself. This will always be a very unique place and a fantastic one to learn about and experience the weather. I'm excited to get to work and learn more about this fascinating place.

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

19:32 Tue Apr 16th

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Some Rime Up Close.

After numerous times volunteering in the summer, we've finally done a 'winter' week! Some aspects of this week were similar to those in the summer (same food in the pantry, same meat in the freezers, same equipment in the kitchen, same friendly crew) but there were obviously many differences (snow cat ride to the summit, colder temperatures, no people in the State Park Rotunda, and no MWO museum open to help out in). But the biggest difference this time was being able to get up close and personal with rime ice.

As any follower of this column knows, rime ice is often commented on by the observers. The newest Windswept has a great article by Cyrena-Marie Briedè (Director of Summit Operations) about the formation of rime ice. Until you see it for yourself, however, its beauty just can't be imagined. Between us, we've taken several hundred pictures of the rime. Both close ups to catch the detail and further away to show the amazing length these horizontal ice formations can grow to. It seems none of our pictures really do it justice though. What really surprised us was the remarkable 'feathery' appearance of much of it. Imagine signs, railings, cables, equipment, antennae, buildings, and everything coated with an avian mantel of icy feathers. All that pretty accumulation can present issues: we often heard the bang! clang! bang! of crowbar against ice and metal as the crew knocked the stuff off instruments on the observation tower.

As always, the weather up here can be a gamble, but there is no gamble about the specialness of this place. Among several days of impressive winds coupled with bright white fog, we were treated to a spectacular crystal clear New Hampshire winter day with blue sky, low wind, and temperatures just under the freezing point. What a perfect way to show off all that white feathery rime. Every day brought us satisfaction knowing we were helping a special organization; membership is well worth it!

Patti and Steve Chappell – Summit Volunteers

17:17 Mon Apr 15th

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Looking to Wildcat

It is a spectacular day on the summit! The sun is shining, winds are calm, and visibility is at it's peak. On days like today being outside for observations is a welcomed part of the job. Although the summit is still snow covered and has wintery touches left by Mother Nature yesterday, Spring is in the air! Today's temperature has inched as high as 28 degrees and the rime is slowing sublimating. If this were the weekend I can only imagine the number of people that would be here. Regardless, I have seen enough lucky hikers on the summit to know that we are not the only ones enjoying this beautiful day.

Too bad this will be short lived as a cold front begins to push into the region from the Great Lakes overnight. With the approaching front, clouds will begin to settle back onto the summit by daybreak and conditions will become unsettled. As the high pressure over us moves off the coast the pressure gradient will tighten increasing winds. As the shift that has had a delayed Shift Change the last two shift we hope this blows through fast! Here is to hoping Wednesday can be as spectacular as today.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

16:34 Sun Apr 14th

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Vasque Group On The Summit

Saturday marked the last scheduled overnight trip of the winter season here on Mount Washington. The participants of this trip consisted of representatives from Vasque, our official footwear sponsor. Friday morning, the nine precipitants made the arduous journey up the Mount Washington Auto Road. With spring conditions at the base and winter conditions at the top, the trip up saw a mix of precipitation which lengthened their journey.

Once they arrived however, they quickly settled in. While they were here they had the opportunity to tour the Observatory and learn more about the work that we do. Friday evening we were all able to socialize and get to know each other better, which was a real treat. Saturday morning the group was greeted with some intermittent clearing that allowed a view of the sunrise. And after a hearty breakfast the group set off hiking before loading onto the snow cat to head back down.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

23:43 Sat Apr 13th

Let me start by reminding everyone that I am a meteorologist which means I study weather, not space or meteors and I work and the Mount Washington Observatory which observers the weather and not space or meteors. I just want to make that clear because I am about to talk about space and I don't want there to be any confusion as to my profession and about where I work. So with that being said, let get to tonight's Observer Comment.

Working nights up here, I am constantly looking for interesting things that may grace the skies for me to look for while doing my hourly weather observations. In the summer, it might be a line of thunderstorms lighting up the horizon or the sky above me. When the moon is full it might be an interesting reflection off the Atlantic Ocean or a colorful corona around the moon itself. Occasionally it might be a meteor shower or the rare passing of a comet. And now that we are heading into what I have heard referred to as a solar maximum, I continually monitor for the possibility to see the skies dancing with light from the occasional Aurora Borealis. So, when I checked the NOAA-NWS Space Weather Prediction Center page back on April 11, I was really excited to read about a detected Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). Even more interesting about this CME was the fact that it was the largest earth-directed CME of the year so far.

Now, when it comes to space, I am an amateur at best. So, if you want me to explain the how's and why's behind a CME, I will have to check with Google and get back to you. However, when I read the words "large," "earth-bound," and "CME," I know just enough to know that this means there is a high probability for a viewable Aurora Borealis at our latitude...if we are clear (and preferably "moonless"). So the past few days, I have been checking out every page I know of, tracking the progress of the incoming CME and when it might be visible.

Every site I checked continually stated that the peak Aurora viewing would be tonight into Sunday morning. Once I had that nailed down, my attention turned to the weather since we would need to be clear to view anything that might occur. Back on Thursday, clearing on the summit looked plausible, on Friday, clearing looked possible but was looking far less likely, and then this morning, clearing looked near impossible. And that leads to tonight...where we are currently in dense fog (with a visibility of 25 feet), it is snowing, and looking at satellite loops for cloud cover, there isn't even a hint of a break overhead even if the fog does break. So, it is looking extremely unlikely like I/we will get to see an Aurora this time from the summit. However, the night still has a few more hours, so I/we still have a sliver of hope. However, if you are lucky enough to be in the clear tonight, check out the links below and continue to check the night sky (if viewable), you just might just get a chance at viewing an Aurora Borealis. Happy sky watching!

Some available pages for current Aurora Borealis information:
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/latest/three_day_forecast.txt
http://spaceweather.com/
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/pmap/
http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/
http://www.geo.mtu.edu/weather/aurora/
http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:35 Fri Apr 12th

Happy Big Wind Day Everyone! For those of you who aren't familiar with Big Wind Day, Big Wind Day is a day in honor of one of our most notable weather events. It was on this day 79 years ago, that the observers at the newly founded Mount Washington Observatory recorded a wind speed of 231 MPH . Observers Salvatore Pagliuca, Alex McKenzie, Wendell Stephenson, along with several feline observers and two guests, had front row seats to the abnormally strong, late winter storm.

In the 48 hours leading up to the April 12th, 1934 storm, conditions changed dramatically. Weather observations on April 10th where primarily sunny and calm; typical spring conditions. Then, low pressure over the Great Lakes traveled west, and began to intensify as it approached high pressure over the Atlantic Ocean. The high created a blocking pattern which caused an extremely tight pressure gradient to form over the New England Region. By the morning of April 12th it was clear that the weather conditions were quickly deteriorating and a storm was heading towards the summit. On April 12th, Sal Pagliuca wrote in the observers log book "That there was no doubt this morning that a "super-hurricane," Mt Washington style, was in full development."

Sal's statement that morning would turn out to be dead on. By the middle of that afternoon, he and his fellow observers witnessed and recorded the world's highest ever recorded wind speed. That record was held until 1996 Tropical Cyclone Olivia made landfall on Barrow Island recording a speed of 253mph. While we lost the record, we are hopeful that one day Mount Washington will reclaim. If you want more information about our record wind speed, check out Mount Washington Observatory's online gift shop . There you will find books on the history of Mount Washington plus tons of other great merchandise.

Michael Kyle – Summit Intern

17:21 Thu Apr 11th

Where are you Spring? After this past off week I was certain spring had arrived. Returning to the summit I realized I was dreaming just a little too much. Although we were able to take the van with chains for a small portion of our commute, the Snow Tractor was still the primary mode of transportation. Once on the summit I was greeted by snow everywhere with only the occasional rock showing from scouring. It was apparent the summit is still very much a winter wonderland. As the days creep closer and closer to May, I know Spring will soon reach the summit too. For now it's just a waiting game.

Observer footnote: if you're looking for a fun activity in the Mount Washington Valley, make sure to check out our free Weather Discovery Center. We're currently featuring a new gallery on loan from Plymouth State University's Museum of the White Mountains called 'To the Extremes: The Geology of Adventure in the White Mountains'. The exhibition features 24 photographic and text panels that detail the connections between geological history and recreation in the White Mountains. The Weather Discovery Center is located across the street from the Eastern Slope Inn, in North Conway, and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

23:23 Wed Apr 10th

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Transitions of Spring.

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed today, it seemed like everyone had something to say about the weather. If my friends/family were in the Mid-Atlantic/Southeast/Southwest US it was too hot, if they were in the upper Midwest/Northwest/Upper Northeast US it was too cold, however for the few that were wedged between the two extremes, today was just right. It was almost like Mother Nature let the three bears (from Goldilocks) take over the weather for the day or something. So where did the summit of Mount Washington place - too hot, too cold, or just 'right?' Temperatures for today are normally 22F and with an average of 25F so far, we are right about normal; and with fog and a mix of all precipitation types, it seemed just about right or at the very least 'normal' for this time of year up here today.

But it isn't just the summit experiencing these 'normal' conditions as even the valleys below are sharing in the mild weather. Trees are starting to bud and flowers are starting to shake the shackles of snow and ice as they start pushing up to add some color to our world. Snow and ice have been melting out by what seems like leaps and bounds the past few days as mild days have also been met by mild nights. The loosening snow is allowing for another spring rite of passage - the digging out of the Mount Washington Auto Road. So with more asphalt than snow present at the lower elevations, today marked our first shift change where we weren't taking the snow cat from the base to the summit. Today, we made the transfer from 4x4 vans w/ chains to snow tractor at about 2 mile park. And if the upcoming storm for some reason ends up being more rain than snow, there is even a chance that by next week we will be making the switch at half-way. Yeesh, where did the winter go, it felt like it just started yesterday? While we will still get periodic tastes of winter on the summer (in fact we have one coming up this shift week), summer is just around the corner and all the greatness it brings. So, I'm excited, are you?

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:38 Tue Apr 9th

As you might imagine, it's extremely important for our weather station to constantly record quality data. Here at the Mount Washington Observatory we have numerous strategies for ensuring quality and consistent data which as you might imagine can be a very difficult thing to manage for 80+ years. For each weather variable that we observe and record there are typically several instruments recording at once with several back up instruments waiting in the wings. A perfect example of this would easily be how we record temperature. Here on Mount Washington we record temperature using a either mercury-filled glass thermometers, alcohol-filled glass thermometers (for those very bitter days), several digital thermometers, and sling psychrometer. By having multiple instruments placed outside and recording we are able to get an excellent sense of variance among different thermometers, if any and also have back-ups recording in the unfortunate event that an instrument succumbs to the elements. Temperature is physically recorded into our database in a number of ways as well, including manually (an observer reads a thermometer then writes down the temperature on our METAR form), digitally (our digital database grabs temperatures from our digital thermometers), and mechanically onto our thermograph (a paper chart that can operate under zero electrical power while it records 24 hours-worth of temperature data).

Needless to say the amount of redundancy and back-up we have for temperature applies for other variables like wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, precipitation, etc., etc; however, this is not where our attention to detail ends. Error-checking and quality control is something we manage several times a day, and as one of the day observers it is my task to completely review the previous day's observations by recreating each scenario in our databases and charts. The aim here is to make sure the data in each observation falls within certain parameters set by the National Weather Service in the FMH-1 (Federal Meteorological Handbook-1). After being checked during daily check (it's already been checked the night before during nightly check) our data is reviewed several times after as the data slowly makes its way into monthly weather forms and longer-term resources (like our weather almanac for means and extremes). As tedious and time-consuming as this might sound, it's incredibly important work which helps keep our long-term climate records consistent, accurate and respected in the meteorological and climatological communities who may want to use our data to ask some very interesting questions.

If you have any questions about any of our other operations, events, membership, current conditions or forecasts, definitely check out our website at MountWashington.org .

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

14:39 Mon Apr 8th

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Wavy Clouds on Sunday Morning

We've had some fairly up-and-down weather this shift.

When we arrived (a day late, no dollars short) on Thursday, the summit was fully in the clear, with temperatures about normal (mid to upper teens), and breezy west winds. After rising up into the 20s later on Thursday and Friday, a cold front brought us back down into the negative numbers by Saturday.

While Saturday started out as one of those typical Mt. Washington mornings--summit firmly in the fog, visibility less than 100 feet, and consistent rime icing--the sun made a return during the afternoon, providing our overnight guests with some spectacular views!

Now, we are awaiting a big warm up. Temperatures today have already broken above freezing, and we're expecting a period of rain and freezing rain tonight and tomorrow as we hover right around the freezing mark.

So, we could see a significant melt-out, or we could see every structure become encased in a layer of glaze ice if temperatures fall just a degree or two shy of what models are predicting.

Here's hoping for the former!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:36 Sun Apr 7th

After a brief hike over to Clay today (for those of you not familiar, it's about a 2.5 mile round-trip hike from the summit), I fully understood how the balmy valley conditions can be misleading. I was surprised by the amount of blowing snow, limiting visibility to about 50 feet in front of me and pelting every inch of my body to the point where even the snow hitting my jacket was becoming painful.

The quickly melting snow patches in the valley are no indication of temperatures and weather on the summit. Temperatures below zero and bitter wind chills are not uncommon this time of year on the summit. Even on relatively nice days like today, a quick shift in wind direction can lead to whiteout conditions with bits of rime and snow pelting every inch of a hiker's body. It is best to be prepared for full-on winter conditions, unless a cleansing (and painful) blown-snow facial massage is what you're looking for.

Observer footnote: if you're looking for a fun activity in the Mount Washington Valley, make sure to check out our free Weather Discovery Center. We're currently featuring a new gallery on loan from Plymouth State University's Museum of the White Mountains called 'To the Extremes: The Geology of Adventure in the White Mountains'. The exhibition features 24 photographic and text panels that detail the connections between geological history and recreation in the White Mountains. The Weather Discovery Center is located across the street from the Eastern Slope Inn, in North Conway, and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

13:33 Sat Apr 6th

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Friends

This is my third time volunteering on the summit. The first two times were with my best friend Brad Bradstreet. Brad always loved being on top of the highest place in the north east but a year ago today he went to be in the highest place of all. Brad passed away and left me with a hole in my life but he will be with us all the time. I'm spending my week on the summit with a good friend John Donovan. We starting talking online a couple years ago about the Seek the Peak (STP) hike and we got to see each other for the first time at the after party. We always talked online and would only see each other at the after party's so we both came up with the idea of doing a week together on the summit. There was no doubt that a friendship started with the first contact talking about Seek The Peak.

Even though he is a good friend I still miss being up here with my buddy Brad. I started talking to Brad on the MWOBS forum back in 2007 when a group of members were talking about what trail they were going to hike. I was unable to go that year but I kept in touch with everyone on the forum and then face book. The next year Brad asked me to hike with him for STP and after a year and a half of just talking on the forum we set off for the best day of my life on the morning of STP.

I did not make it to the summit that year but something better happened-- a friendship that would make me a member of his family and a friendship with the people that support the MWOBS. There is a group of us that get together a lot because of Brad and the very nice people that work for the MWOBS. The MWOBS is a big part of all our lives and we love all coming together for the STP weekend. On the summit this week I took on the job that my buddy Brad had when we came up here which is to clean and do the dishes. He said he would do this because he could not cook. I do miss him each day but he has put together a group of friends that would have never got to meet each other if it wasn't for him and the MWOBS.

Rest in peace my brother, you will never be forgotten.

Charlie Hawkins – Summit Volunteer

16:17 Fri Apr 5th

With the departure of Steve from MWO, our shift was left with a void during the daytime. Who would fill that gaping chasm? Well, as it turns out, it would be me.

After a little over 4 years of working the night shift, I have done an about-face, switching to working the day shift, in order to (at least partially) fill the gap that Steve left behind. It certainly is a whole different ball game during the day--more interaction with other human beings, sunshine, grey fog instead of black fog, and the phone sure does ring a lot more!

Although I did work days for the few short months I was an intern way back in the fall of 2008, those days are but a distant memory, and my responsibilities are a little more extensive now, as I additionally attempt to step into the role of shift leader. It is a vast new challenge, and one I am very much looking forward to tackling!

I will very much miss the rhythm and repose of the night shift, but I am looking forward to what the day shift has in store for me! And with a little tweak of the schedule, I am able to keep the part of my nights that I valued the most--forecasting!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:26 Thu Apr 4th

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The snowcat next to one of the major drifts.

It's back to work for the Mike, Mike and Brian shift, though for the second shift in a row we are starting the work week a day late, thanks in part to nasty shift-change-day summit conditions. It might have been sunny and beautiful down in the valley yesterday, but up here on the rockpile the other shift experienced wind gusts topping out at 118 MPH blowing snow all around the summit cone. Yesterday stayed so consistently windy that the average wind speed stayed well above hurricane-force at 86.7 MPH. Let's also not forget yesterday's maximum temperature was only 8 degrees with a minimum of -2 creating some pretty unforgivable wind chills. For obvious reasons, we did not want to risk breaking down in the snowcat on a day like yesterday.

Today's trip to work was much like two weeks ago following another round of snow, high winds and blowing snow. Under ideal conditions our trip up the eight mile auto road in our snowcat takes roughly one hour; however, two week ago it took us nearly three hours, while today lasted nearly two and one half hours. With all of the snow drifting and compacting from the brutal winds the auto road needed some serious back and forth plowing to move concrete-like drifts measuring nearly ten feet in some places.

Luckily for the other shift, and also for our EduTrip this evening (our friends from the Blue Hill Observatory are up), we made it the full eight miles ready to start the work week, a day late once again. While this shift has certainly lucked out with extra days off, we have no doubt that the mountain will help balance this injustice out in the future.

If you're looking for a fun activity in the Mount Washington Valley, make sure to check out our free Weather Discovery Center where we're currently featuring a new gallery on loan from Plymouth State University's Museum of the White Mountains called 'To the Extremes: The Geology of Adventure in the White Mountains'.

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

15:45 Wed Apr 3rd

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Family portrait at the summit sign.

We came up last week into the clouds while there was plenty of sunshine and talk about spring in the valley. Now another week as volunteers for the Mount Washington Observatory is slowly coming to an end. Most likely we will leave the summit tomorrow in wintery conditions, after being delayed by a day.

As previous comments already mentioned, we had a wonderful winter Easter weekend and plenty of skiers and hikers gave the summit a look as if all Easter bunnies of the East Coast gathered for their Annual Meeting. A special guest was our son, who came from Vermont to spend time with us over the weekend before going back down on the snowboard through Tuckerman Ravine.

One of the most amazing display of extreme weather on the summit is the feather-like rime ice that covers everything. It starts building up when fog, wind and temperatures come together. This is a combination that we don't see too often in our backyards, but is very common on this mountain. Since rime ice consists mostly of air, it is very light and can cover the structures up, accumulating at speeds of several inches per hour. Thanks to the Observers for lots of information about rime ice and especially to Kerry Claffey from the US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) who worked during this shift on rime research at the Observatory.

Werner and Conny Griesshammer – Summit Volunteers

20:02 Tue Apr 2nd

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Temperatures from today.

Looking at our weather in the coming days, it is almost as if Mother Nature is pulling an extended April Fools' joke on us. The calendar is clearly reading April - a spring month; however everything around us is reading like January - a winter month. It is lightly snowing, blowing snow is dense and everywhere, and fog is thick with everything coming together to make for white out conditions in all directions. Temperatures struggled to just above 0F today but are currently falling below zero to possible daily record low territory tonight (which is 5F below zero in case you were wondering). And temperatures are supposed to remain below normal (which is 19F above zero this time of year) until possibly Thursday. Winds are hurricane force and creeping upwards towards the century mark overnight. And like temperatures, hurricane force winds are expected to continue until Thursday before finally easing off a bit. When you combine the winds and cold, it makes wind chill values close to our warning criteria (50F below zero) instead of just an advisory. So, ha-ha Mother Nature, good joke; but as much as I love winter, can you bring Spring back now?

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

16:26 Mon Apr 1st

Today marked the end of a beautiful weekend. The past two days have had stellar visibility, low winds, and mild temperatures. I could not have asked for a better end to the month of March. If it was any indication of what this spring might hold, I am in. But surprise! One day later and the mountain has presented an entirely different scene. Fog, snow, and increasing winds have sent the summit back into a winter state today. Hopefully this is Mother Nature's form of an April Fools day joke. Regardless, here is to the quick arrival of Spring in the weeks ahead.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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