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Observer Comments

June 2013

16:10 Sun Jun 30th

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Diapensia overlooking the Great Gulf

Now that the month of June is just about done, I've had about a month and a half to work on my project, and things are starting to come together pretty nicely. For my intern project this summer I've been tasked with looking at the nature of the gustiness of winds on the summit. The wind on the summit can be sustained at 100mph for example, but on one day it may frequently gust only to 110 and another it could be gusting to 130 or 140. After pouring through about six years worth of wind data from 2007 to 2013, I'm finally starting to get past the more tedious calculations and into looking at the bigger picture of how the wind is behaving on the summit. Understanding what makes one day so much gustier than another will be very interesting to find out, and some of the findings from my project could even be useful for future projects or forecasting purposes in this unique location.

Besides making some good progress on my project this week, we also had our first summer overnight trip, with a few of the fine people from Vasque spending the evening on the summit last night. We had a great time getting to know everyone and hope they enjoyed their time up here and got to learn something in the process. If you may be interested in spending a night on the summit of Mount Washington, information about Summer Overnight trips can be found here.

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

18:53 Sat Jun 29th

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A Pot of Gold at Nelson Crag?

What a better time for lightning week than this week? Sandwiched between a high pressure system offshore, spinning clockwise, and a low pressure system to our northwest, spinning counterclockwise, the northeast is getting a direct shot of maritime air. A southwesterly flow is allowing extremely humid air to flow through the northeast.

June is also the time of year when the sun is highest in the sky and strongest. As sunlight warms up the surface of the earth during the day, the warm air near the surface will bubble up and rise into the atmosphere. As this air rises, it cools, and cooler air cannot hold as much gaseous water as warm air. Once it reaches a certain temperature, the air becomes saturated and forms a cloud.

At this point, many different factors come into play as to whether or not a thunderstorm will form. The basic concept is the same concept behind a rising hot air balloon. This area, also called a parcel, of air only rises while is it warmer than the air around it. As air condenses and a cloud forms, however, it releases more heat, warming even more. With very large thunderstorms, this air rises to a point high in our atmosphere called the tropopause. The unique characteristic of this section of our atmosphere is that it becomes warmer with height. As a rising cloud reaches this layer, surrounding temperatures will become closer to the temperature of the cloud, and the cloud will stop rising. Since the top of this cloud has nowhere higher to rise, it flattens out at this level. This is the ultimate "cap" for extremely convective storms and is the reason for the anvil shape seen on large cumulonimbus clouds.

The current setup, with extremely humid air and strong daytime heating, is very supportive for thunderstorm formation. Combine that with both a low pressure system to our east and several frontal boundaries going through the northeast, and widespread afternoon thunderstorms are a daily occurrence.

So, if you're hiking outside in the next few days, be extremely mindful that a fun, partly cloudy morning can quickly turn into a dangerous, stormy afternoon! In the spirit of lightning safety week, get informed and visit the National Weather Service's special lightning safety page.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

18:17 Fri Jun 28th

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Developing Storms East of the Carter-Moriah Range

Yesterday's clouds, seen in the attached photo, may not have produced any thunderstorms in our vicinity, but it demonstrates just how chaotic the weather can be in the summer time. With the chance for severe storms throughout the next several days, and as we're approaching the first full weekend after most schools have finished classes, lightning safety is as important as ever.

The science behind the formation of lightning is not yet fully understood, but meteorologists and researchers today have a general understanding of the processes behind it. It involves the accrual of negative charges inside the storm cloud due to friction between colliding ice particles, and the 'discharge' of these negative charges into the upper reaches of the storm cloud, which becomes positively charged, or the Earth's surface, where a positive charge is induced by the storm cloud.

As complicated as all this may be, it's easy to understand the threat that lightning poses to us. Lightning kills 40-50 people in the United States per year -- and those who enjoy outdoor recreation are at a much higher risk. Before heading out, it's important to become aware of the threat for storms that day by checking your local weather forecasts using resources like weather.gov and wunderground.com. Be ready to postpone plans if there is the threat for lightning danger, and remember that if you can hear the storm rumble, you are close enough to be struck -- so When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! One little known fact is that the strongest and most powerful strikes can hit as far as 10 miles away from their point of origin, due to this 'discharge' occurring between the upper reaches of the storm cloud and surfaces that are far away from the cloud base.

Knowing what to do if you find yourself unable to head indoors during a lightning storm, especially if you're out in the open (e.g. while playing golf, or hiking above treeline), is crucial to reducing your risk of being struck. Lightning will prefer to hit taller structures within a horizontal distance roughly equal to that object's height -- and if you're up to 60 feet from wherever the lightning hits, you may be shocked by an induced electric current that travels near the Earth's surface. This ground current, rather than direct strikes, is by far the cause for most lightning injuries and fatalities. Therefore, the best way to prepare is to sit in a crouching position, with your feet close together, in the lowest area you can find, such as a ditch or trench, that is as far away as possible from any tall objects. Signs of an imminent lightning strike include hair standing on end, nearby snapping or crackling sounds, or an abnormal burning smell in the air. It should also be known that the human body will not remain electrically charged after being struck -- so if someone is injured by lightning, they should receive medical attention as soon as possible.

You can find more information by checking out the National Weather Service's page on lightning safety, found by following this link. Remember to stay safe while enjoying your summer!

Luke Davis – Summit Intern

17:56 Wed Jun 26th

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Courtesy: National Weather Service

This week we're expecting a conveyor belt of tropical moisture to continue to stream into our region as a cut-off low pressure system will churn over the Great Lakes well into next week. This warm, moist flow will translate into a daily likelihood for showers and thunderstorms in our region, which is perfect timing for Lightning Safety Awareness week!

Even in a place as unbelievably windy and cold as the summit of Mount Washington, lightning is easily the most dangerous weather phenomena we experience here at the Observatory, so we definitely want to get the word out. This Thursday and Friday at 11:30 AM at our Weather Discovery Center in North Conway Village, the Observatory's own Will Broussard will be giving free, family-friendly presentations and demonstrations about lightning safety. For more information about lightning safety visit the National Weather Service's page, or visit the Mount Washington Observatory's site for more information about our educational programs! Also, stay tuned for more lightning-safety observer comments this week!

Remember: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:34 Tue Jun 25th

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Photo Credit: Tom Guilmette

It's an exciting time for Mount Washington Observatory.

With successful classroom education programs, distance learning, workshops, incredible trips to our mountaintop weather station, and the hands-on Weather Discovery Center in downtown North Conway, the Observatory is delivering on its educational mission like never before. Nearly 200,000 people learn about the science of climate and weather from Mount Washington Observatory each year. That is an accomplishment we are very proud of, and we thank you for helping us reach this milestone.

Today we stand at the forefront of yet another educational milestone. In just over eight months we will open the doors to the most exciting, most engaging, and most incredible indoor educational experience we have ever offered: Extreme Mount Washington.

Our current mountaintop museum, which has been in service for more than forty years, is the most visited museum in the entire state of New Hampshire. With more than 100,000 people viewing its vintage exhibits each year (most as their first and only interaction with the Observatory), we knew it was time for a more modern experience that more accurately reflects our work today.

We began soliciting grant support, and to date we have raised more than $725,000 towards the project's $825,000 goal.

Now we're asking for your support to help us finish the campaign and make Extreme Mount Washington a reality: Please make a tax-deductible donation today.

We are extremely proud to offer all those who give $250 or more their very own tile at the entrance to the new museum, a lasting tribute to your support for Mount Washington and the Observatory.

I hope you are as excited as I am about this incredible project. I invite you to learn more and preview the new Extreme Mount Washington by watching the video on Extreme.MountWashington.org . I think you'll agree that it's an exciting endeavor!

Thank you for standing with us through the years. Our work is possible because of your support!

Scot Henley – Executive Director

19:29 Mon Jun 24th

Mount Washington is an awesome place for one to visit, work and/or volunteer.

As a volunteer with the Mount Washington Observatory, you not only 'perfect' your cooking skills, but you also will have the opportunity to experience the unique climate of the place that was considered sacred to the Abenaki. The staff will patiently explain what is happening (weather wise) and why weather occurs as it does. I spent a lot of time watching the various weather displays as the weather changed rapidly from clear to cloudy and perhaps back again. Working with them gave me an understanding that the Observers live a life beyond that of the weather room. After eating 'family style meals,' there is time to play games, watch all sorts of media, go up to the tower and stand against the wind or just talk about life.

As a volunteer, I felt very much a part of the organization. Meal planning was fun (really!). Going up to the visitors' center in the morning before the public came up and enjoying the sounds of the wind and the phenomenal view started the day on a positive note. Hiking to the Alpine Garden and having the time to really identify the vegetation was great. Just being able to spend time on Mt. Washington without worrying about having to leave was wonderful. I definitely would recommend this experience to all who have a sense of adventure, humor and love of life!!

Ruth S. Innes – Summit Volunteer

22:05 Sun Jun 23rd

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Microburst from this afternoon's thunderstorm.

It was an active afternoon of weather to say the least. A cold front sweeping through brought a line of thunderstorms to the state providing heavy rain, large hail, high winds, and continuous lightning. As far as the summit is concerned, we received three out of the four elements as the line swept through. First came the rain. It started slow then picked up in intensity until it started falling heavily. As rain ramped up, the lightning came next. Again, it started slowly; a flash here, a rumble there with several minutes passing after each element. But then the spacing of flashes and rumbles narrowed down to just seconds between each flash/bang. Then as the core of the storm passed, a downdraft in the form of a microburst swept across the peaks. Winds were already averaging 30-40 mph but as the microburst hit us, winds gusted up to 76 mph, lasting only a matter of minutes before backing to 30-40 mph after the line passed. This can be seen in the thumbnail image to this comment - the top left is the wind chart and the top right is our pressure chart with the thunderstorm line in the bottom half.

As the storm started to wind down, we started to clear from the fog a bit. So I decided to set up my dSLR in the weather room in hopes of photographing a strike of lightning. I lowered the aperture to f22, lowered the ISO to 100, and did consecutive 1 second exposure's by use of an intervalometer. While a shorter exposure is more ideal, the variability of light with the passing clouds, made it difficult to get things just right. So, one second was the best middle ground length. After waiting a few minutes, we saw the flash and heard the thunder at the same time and new that something on the summit had received a direct hit. When things finally died down, I took the card out and after sorting through 243 images, I found the 'money shot' with a direct hit to the antenna positioned just to the west of our weather room window. While the image wasn't 100% crisp due to rain running down the window and the exposure length washing things out a bit, it still ended up being an awesome capture; and one that I have been wanting to photograph for several years now.

But the day wasn't through yet. As the line of thunderstorms moved out, we briefly cleared on and above the summits allowing for the sun to shine from the west towards the east. Anyone with knowledge about optics knows that sunlight to your back and rain falling to your front makes for a rainbow. So, after grabbing the trusty camera one more time, I ran out to find a double rainbow stretching across the summit. It only lasted a matter of minutes before the clouds rolled back in. But in that brief moment, it provided a colorful scene and terrific end to a dynamic afternoon.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

16:47 Sat Jun 22nd

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Live With WMTW and WHOM

The summit has been a busy place for the past few days. Personally, I think my head is still spinning from all the excitement. Yesterday I had an early wake up call that had me outside at 0430 where I had the opportunity to accompany Matt Zidle on air with WMTW Channel 8. While on the top of the tower, I was able to discuss our wind instrumentation. After I was done with WMTW, I headed out to the Sherman Adams rotunda to talk with Teddy and Sandra on 94.9 WHOM. Throughout the morning I was able to talk about the work we do on the summit. By the time dinner rolled around, I was ready for bed. Regardless, it was a great opportunity and I want to thank WMTW and WHOM for visiting the summit to share our story!

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

18:43 Fri Jun 21st

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June 21st sunrise

Today is an exciting day, it is the summer solstice for the northern hemisphere! The summer solstice marks the first day of summer, and is the longest day of the year here on Mount Washington. The sun rose today at 4:55AM and will set at 8:38PM this evening.

I have always wanted to watch both the sunrise and sunset on the summer solstice, and a high pressure system over the region has provided ideal conditions to do so. I awoke this morning at 4:30AM, layered up, and ventured outside. Mother Nature did not disappoint, as she displayed what was by far the most breathtaking sunrise I have ever witnessed in my life. A layer of alto-stratus clouds lit up from below as the sun crept up, setting the sky on fire. I snapped many photos of the display and made sure to admire the view. I am very excited to head back out this evening for the sunset, after which I will be able to say that I have watched both the sunrise and sunset on the summer solstice.

So far the weather on the mountain has been phenomenal this week, with today marking the third clear day in a row on the summit. I have been lucky and had many chances to venture outdoors through observatory tours and assisting with building maintenance. I look forward to the rest of the week, as weather depending, I will be able to venture out on the first hike of my internship!

Alex Carne – Summit Intern

18:32 Thu Jun 20th

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Afternoon shot of the Northern Presidentials

It was an absolutely gorgeous day today on the summit; the best weather I've seen yet! (Ok I'll admit it, I think those 120 mph wind gusts that I was lucky enough to experience take the prize!)

The summit has been bustling with activity recently. With tours, media visits, and the 'Minis on Top' event this weekend, it's obvious that with beautiful days like today, we will see more and more visitors throughout the next few months.

As far as my internship goes, I am loving every minute. I have the opportunity to work with some very talented people and I am constantly learning something new which never makes for a dull day. It is a unique experience to live and work in the same place but it is an adjustment that I have quickly embraced.

I am particularly excited for this weekend, not just for the surplus of Mini Coopers that will ride up to the summit, but also because Saturday evening into early Sunday morning, we may be able to witness a 'Supermoon' - weather permitting, of course! The moon will appear to be slightly larger in the sky as it reaches its closest point to Earth during its monthly orbit, which is also known as the lunar perigee. This lunar perigee just so happens to coincide with a full moon, which is why this event has been termed 'Supermoon'. Although still a couple days away, Saturday evening is currently looking to be increasingly cloudy with a chance of showers possible. I have my fingers crossed!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Summit Intern

22:44 Wed Jun 19th

Another week on this summit has begun and it looks like we have good weather in store for us. This will be helpful while trying to accomplish tasks outside in preparation for the fast approaching winter. After all, the next few days will be the longest of the year so we have to use them to our advantage. Before we know it, snow will return to the summit stranding us on our arctic-like island. So here is to good weather and long days ahead.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

06:22 Tue Jun 18th

My alarm goes off at 6:30am; I jump in the shower and get dressed. When I awake I typically find Marty waiting by the door for me to pop my head out. As soon as I am done getting dressed I head to our kitchen where I make my breakfast and iced coffee. The start of my day is here. On a clear beautiful day I make sure that I eat my breakfast outside on the rocks or get a small jaunt in before the crowds start to pile in. On cloudy, rainy days I just hope for some excitement and head downstairs to our Museum.

Being the Museum Attendant you are lucky enough to socialize with people from all over the world. The majority of these people can't understand how we do what we do. Some people can't even fathom the idea of themselves staying up here for a night, others asking how they can! Just like the Observers, the Museum Attendant is up here on the same shift schedule. I spend the majority of my day selling t-shirts and souvenirs. I answer all kinds of questions.

My lunch break is covered by the two interns we have working up here in the summer time. I spend my hour getting to know the workers of the Cog Railway and the Auto Road. We all work in this unique place and all have unique stories. I return back to work until the end of the night. I am done when the last person leaves the summit.

I close up shop and head to the living quarters for dinner. Dinner consists of the group of us sitting down at a table like a family and talking about our days past and days ahead. Sometimes Marty hanging by to listen, or stare. Dinner usually ends too quickly and before you know it, it's already time for bed. Many ask what we do in our free time and if we ever get bored up here. The answer is our work is never done. We work long days and many hours all to enjoy the week off following our week spent up here.

Samantha Brady – Summit Museum Attendant

15:59 Sun Jun 16th

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A sneaky Marty enjoying the quiet of the office.

After all the excitement of yesterday's Mount Washington Road Race, the mood on the Rockpile has calmed with the end of the weekend and heavy rain showers nearly here. It's interesting to note while living on the summit for eight days at a time to see just how drastically energy fluctuates from the quiet early morning start of the day, to the frenzy at midday with the arrivals of hikers, Cog travelers and Auto Road patrons, to the calm and quiet of the sun set (for night observers, the energy and excitement of their shifts is just the opposite).

For most of us here at the Observatory, Sunday is just another work day recording and observing the weather; however, we all sincerely hope that all of the father's out there had an extraordinary day. On behalf of the all of the staff (human and feline) at the Mount Washington Observatory, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:16 Sat Jun 15th

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Runners near the finish line this morning

Today was the 53rd annual road race, with over 1,300 runners making their way up the 7.6 mile auto road. It was an amazing sight to see thousands of people on the summit this morning to cheer on the runners, who had to battle some brisk winds and chilly temperatures in the upper 30s. The fastest runner made it up in just under an hour, an amazing feat to think about!

After a very busy morning, things quieted down only slightly for the afternoon. This was likely the busiest day so far this summer, with many people driving up the auto road or arriving via the cog railway to enjoy the mountain and its views. I also personally was able to give a few tours and get outside to enjoy the views myself, which included points as far away as Mt Coburn in ME at 100 miles.

Looking at the forecast tomorrow for Father's Day, the morning should be very nice with lighter winds and temperatures in the low 40s, however showers and even a few thunderstorms will be possible by the afternoon so if you're planning on coming up to the summit tomorrow be sure to get an early start and enjoy the nice weather while it lasts!

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

20:21 Fri Jun 14th

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Iridescent Clouds Behind the Stage Office

A month or two ago, after a long and foggy shift, we were getting in the van to make our way back down the mountain. After a relatively boring sky for our shift, we had views of spectacular lenticulars as we were heading back down the mountain. After glancing up past one of the lenticulars, I saw two relatively large, iridescent clouds. One of them was lime green and the other was a deep red.

After a bit of research, realized that iridescence in clouds is caused by similar cloud droplet size. These similar droplets refract sunlight in the same way, therefore allowing the cloud that they compose to glow a specific color. I found several options as to what the cloud we saw may be. One possible option would be an iridescent lenticular cloud. Although most iridescent lenticular clouds vary dramatically in color within the cloud, this is a possible explanation for our sighting.

Although extremely unlikely to be seen during the day, another iridescent cloud is the rare Nacreous cloud. The cold temperatures in the stratosphere allow this cloud to form at extremely high elevations (between 50,000 and 80,000 feet) compared with everyday clouds. These clouds are extremely rare, and are almost primarily seen at high latitudes, where colder temperatures aid in their formation. They are also much more visible near sunrise and sunset when these thin, wispy clouds are more visible. However, a study has shown that lower pressure and turbulence on the downwind side of a mountain may allow for the additional cooling necessary for the formation of these clouds.

Although it is hard to tell what this cloud may be, one thing is sure; this cloud was one of the most colorful and iridescent clouds I have ever seen (the picture above really doesn't do it justice).

Observer footnote: Our annual event, Seek the Peak is coming up on July 20th! If you want to hike to the summit and earn some great prizes while supporting the Observatory, then Seek the Peak is just the event for you; and it's not too late to sign up.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

20:50 Thu Jun 13th

From record highs, to rime icing conditions, to booming thunderstorms, it's been exciting up here during my first couple shifts. And the work load that's been ramping up is making things challenging too.

For the past three days I've been sifting through piles of data, working on the intern research project assigned to myself and intern Alex Carne. Our objective is to use information on meteorological phenomena recorded daily, over the course of several winters, at the base of Tuckerman's Ravine, Huntington's Ravine, and here on the summit, to establish a predictable relationship between conditions in the ravines and conditions on the mountain. This is a challenging task, as the immense complexity of weather over mountainous regions, due to such effects as turbulence and forced uplift, make it difficult to isolate any kind of observable relationship.

Despite the hard work, it's awesome to get the chance to delve into 'pure research' -- trying to understand something for the sake of understanding it -- while being able to directly help mankind. Based on this research, we hope to provide the information necessary for developing a model that may predict the conditions which create a high danger for slab avalanches. This is the kind of avalanche that is extremely dangerous to those enjoying outdoor winter sports; they are caused when a heavy, dense layer of snow collects on top of a weaker, less dense layer until its weight causes the weak layer to collapse, sending massive amounts of snow down the slope. Therefore, not only are we exploring how air moves in these regions, and how it transfers its heat, but also the science of ice crystals, with the ultimate goal of helping protect those who frequent avalanche-prone regions.

On top of all this research and my other intern duties, I've been able to record several weather observations and get experience with basic forecasting models. I've even had the chance to form my own weather outlooks from these models. I can't think of anywhere else that I'd be able to try out two of the top things I'm interested in turning into a career -- research in atmospheric science, and weather forecasting -- all while on top of a mountain! By the end of the summer, I'm sure I'll get enough perspective and experience to help me figure out which direction I should take, all the while improving my hobby in photography.

Luke Davis – Summit Intern

16:36 Wed Jun 12th

'Is it Tuesday already?'

That's usually the phrase that runs through my head when I wake up on an off-Tuesday. My mind immediately goes to work, consolidating what I need to get done before heading up to the summit for a work week.

One of the most important tasks is packing gear for the week. Depending on the time of year, the process varies greatly.

In the summertime, I'll check the models for the upcoming week on Tuesday, looking to see if I'll need to supplement my normal warm weather gear with some additional cold weather items in preparation of cold snaps. Although summer is generally much milder and placid on Mt. Washington, an isolated winter day is never out of the question. During these days, gloves, hats, goggles, heavier coats, winter boots, and traction are entirely necessary, so I must plan eight days in advance.

In the wintertime, even though much more gear is required, the process is actually much simpler. I can fully expect to be met with a barrage of harsh winter conditions, so my line of thought is, bring everything! Thick winter gloves, a wool hat, goggles, a balaclava, snow pants, long johns, a down jacket, mid-layer fleeces, base layer items, thick wool socks, winter boots, a headlamp, microspikes, crampons, and an ice axe will all be packed up for a week of wintertime fun!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

22:32 Tue Jun 11th

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Hiking with Washington in the background.

Volunteering at the Observatory is a once in a live time experience that you must experience more than once. Starting out at the base parking lot you are met by the staff that you will be residing with over the week. The ride up Mt Washington was crystal clear with views well into the distance. The week was rewarding, interactive and fulfilling. The dedicated staff taught us about the weather, the importance of the Observatory and how their data is used in many aspects of everyday living. Planning the meals and cooking in a commercial style kitchen was exhilarating. The chores that were asked of us were set to our skill level. Personally, I had a lot of fun working with Roger in the tower cleaning out old wires, hanging conduit and placing wire supports in the concrete. My wife, Gina, was enjoying her time as well making cookies and banana muffins.

The staffs' personality came out around the dinner table as we shared stories of our adventures, talents, and the insane ways we past time in our youth. Ryan's comical sarcasm coupled with Becca's free willed nature kept you at the edge of your chair, wondering, what would be said next. Then there was the notorious laugh of Kaitlyn, which would make us all crack up. Roger with his one liner, Anthony's wit and Alex's quiet nature and his quick comments created the perfect blend for a dinner party every night. Then of course there is Marty, the fun loving cat, but on his terms.

Being woken up at 2:30am by Ryan, getting dressed as fast as a fireman rushing to a fire, then out to the observation deck to see an Aurora Borealis was an amazing sight. But that was not all; there was the Milky Way, a shooting star and a sky so clear you could touch the stars. Our day hikes proved to be rewarding as we saw a plethora of plant life in the Alpine Garden and amazing views from the surrounding mountain peaks. The week also gave us the chance to see what Mt Washington has to offer, from rain to fog, high winds and of course a blue sky with a view miles away.

Thank you for having us!

John and Gina Rescigno – Summit Volunteers

17:55 Mon Jun 10th

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Cleaning Up

Beautiful conditions on the summit today allowed the summit staff to tackle some outdoor projects. Roger, Pete (IT Manager from the valley), Kaitlyn, Alex, and I all headed outside to fix, fabricate, and clean up the deck and tower. Pete and Roger worked hard on the top of the tower installing radio antennas. This project took quite a while but, the light winds made it easy to do their installations. On the deck, Kaitlyn, Alex, and I worked on pulling old cable and moving paving tiles into one location. It was "grunt" work that needed to be done to better organize equipment that had been sitting there after a long winter.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

15:45 Sun Jun 9th

Mount Washington's extreme climate has made it a prime location for meteorological research. Much of the research that is conducted by the observatory is performed by interns in the form of research projects. Every season, the interns of the observatory are assigned a new research project aimed at discovering new details about the weather and climate of Mount Washington.

The project that I have been assigned compares the relationship between the climate and avalanche history of Tuckerman Ravine (Tucks). There is no weather station in Tucks that can directly measure the weather conditions, so there is a lot that remains unknown about the climate. The two closest weather stations to the ravine are at the Observatory and an automated weather station at the Hermit Lake shelters near the bottom of the ravine. In order to get a better idea of Tuck's climate, I am comparing the climate data of the Observatory to the climate data of the Hermit Lake station in an attempt to find correlations in the data between the two stations. By the end of the summer, my goal is to have developed a better understanding of the climate of Tuckerman ravine. In addition, I hope that the data that I collect will provide more detail about the weather conditions in Tucks that lead to avalanches.

Alex Carne – Summit Intern

19:18 Sat Jun 8th

Life here on the 'rock' pile is moving more and more into summer mode. The Cog is now running to the summit on a daily basis through the end of the October. If you're a Railroad Buff, this is a great way to get to the summit and the first train of the day is generally one of the coal fired steam engines.

The Auto Road is also open daily (weather permitting) with a few special happenings each month like the Sunrise Drives that happen once a month, June to August. For you motorcycle fans, Monday, June 10th and Thursday, June 13th are Motorcycle Only days.

If you'd prefer to get a little exercise and hike up to the summit, there are plenty of opportunities for that with many popular trailheads around the mountain. Before you hike, it's always wise to stop by one of the AMC Visitors Centers to find the current trail conditions. And always check our higher summits forecast to ensure you pack and dress appropriately.

If you want to hike to the summit and earn some great prizes while supporting the Observatory, then Seek the Peak is just the event for you; and it's not too late to sign up.

If you're a Member of the Observatory, don't forget to take advantage of some of your Member Benefits once you arrive. Some benefits include a 20% discount in the summit Museum store and free tours of the Observatory with a chance to get to the top of the Observation Tower or maybe even see Marty if he's not either out wandering the summit or playing hard to get.

We look forward to seeing you all here on the summit this summer.

Roger Pushor – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

16:25 Fri Jun 7th


As the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea steadily move up the Eastern seaboard, we will see plenty of moisture over the next couple of days. But that won't dampen our spirits up here on the summit!

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to visit with one of my college professors who was traveling in the area and decided hike up Mount Washington before the rain moved in. As a new intern, what better way to practice giving tours of the Observatory than by giving one to my college Dynamics professor? Needless to say, it was a great day and he enjoyed his visit. If you're interested in visiting the Observatory for a tour, sign up to be a member today. We hope to see you up here some day!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Summit Intern

16:26 Thu Jun 6th

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IT Manager, Pete, working on the tower today.

During our weekly weather briefing at shift change yesterday, we discussed the forecast and knew Wednesday was likely going to be the best day the upcoming shift saw all week. Clouds and precipitation were going to move in on Thursday, hang around for the weekend, and conditions were to improve again at the end of the shift.

As much as we like the extreme weather and high winds, we also like the occasional nice calm days to get installs and repairs done around the summit. So far the precipitation is holding off, the wind is relatively calm, which makes today a gift. Right now our IT Manager, Pete, and IT Observer, Roger, are working hard on improving our mesonet radio connections. "Winter" lasts more than just 3 months for us up here and it takes its toll on all of our equipment. With our short repair season in full swing, these additional nice days are great times to replace or rerun cables, weld, or upgrade equipment.

Like us, I hope you too are taking advantage of today before the rain moves in!

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

23:52 Wed Jun 5th

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Some color this evening.

It feels odd returning to my routine of drinking coffee at 11 pm at night so I can make it through the night shift. Working nights for me is nothing new; however, I have not stayed up past 1 am since my last night shift back on April 30/May 1, over a month ago. So, tonight may be a struggle. But I am not too concerned since I have been working night shifts on the summit of Mount Washington and elsewhere for over a decade now. So, if I can just get over this initial hump, the rest of this work week should flow fine as far as my work routine goes. When it comes to the flow of the weather though, that's going to be an interesting story in the days ahead.

A strong tropical flow will be setting up over the eastern US in the coming days dumping three inches or more of rain. This will bring an increasing potential for flooding in many parts of the northeast and east coast. And while mountain peaks will not be flooding, the ravines and notches around us will not be as lucky. So hikers this coming weekend should be aware that water crossings may become swollen or impassible in some areas with the possibility of some flash flooding. And, as the ground becomes oversaturated, isolated mudslides cannot be ruled out. So, if you're a hiker, please use caution this weekend and keep the 'turn around, don't drown' mantra in mind.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:24 Tue Jun 4th

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A View of the Rime Ice from Foot Level

After breaking the daily record high temperature for June 1st and tying the daily high for June 2nd, I was starting to get used to doing observations in full-on summer gear. Last night, however, I was kept awake by chilly temperatures in the 20's, combined with near hurricane force winds. When I woke up this afternoon, I was surprised to find temperatures still hovering below freezing and feathers of glaze and rime covering the summit.

In other news, New England is facing a rainy upcoming weekend! A low pressure system will bring tropical moisture to the summit through the weekend, possibly drenching parts of New England with 3 inches of rain in the next 5 days, according to the National Weather Service. To get more information, visit the National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, or check our summit and valley outlooks as the weekend gets closer!

Temperatures are supposed to dip back down into the 20's again tonight, so I'm prepared for another chilly night. It may be shorts and t-shirt weather in the valley, but snow and ice can occasionally be seen year round here on the summit!

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

08:55 Mon Jun 3rd

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Rainbow after a passing shower

Mother Nature provided for plenty of excitement Sunday afternoon as a line of strong storms crossed the summit. Around 4pm the line reached the summit, with heavy rain quickly beginning to fall and winds from the thunderstorm downdraft causing a ramp up from only 25mph before the storm to a peak gust of 101mph! This tied the highest winds I had ever seen on the summit, which was also personally very exciting for me. In addition to the high winds, up to quarter inch hail fell, along frequent lightning which ended up striking the summit of the mountain two times (I suppose lightning can strike the same place twice). It was also pretty entertaining watching the observers frantically run out to the front door to measure hail in hurricane force winds, something you certainly don't see every day.

Thunderstorms are one of, if not the most awesome display of nature. It always amazes me to think that a single lightning bolt can reach over 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, about 5 times the temperature of the surface of the sun! This incredibly high temperature is also reached and cooled back to normal in only tens of milliseconds, causing the air around the lightning to expand so rapidly and violently it produces a shock wave which we hear as thunder. A single bolt of lightning can also be 3-4 miles tall, yet only typically a half inch or less in width. As a meteorologist, there are so many fascinating things about even a single topic such as a thunderstorm; hopefully we'll have many more opportunities to see thunderstorms this summer!

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

18:01 Sat Jun 1st

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Seeing Red (=30% of severe t-storms)

After a brief day off the summit in order to fight a cold and fever it was back to work for me last night, taking the oh-so-familiar 30 minute drive up the Auto Road to work. It's a funny feeling being off the summit when you know your shift is up there working when you can see work pretty plainly from your own house. Thankfully I'm back up at work and excited about the possibilities of some severe weather looking to make its way into the Northeast tomorrow late in the day.

Our shift was treated to an excellent lightning display just over the New Hampshire-Canadian border last night that featured frequent in-cloud, cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-air lightning. Observers, Interns, State Park Employees, Volunteers and Museum Staff all watched the storm with the lights turned off in the weather room as the storm passed to the north and east with clear skies over the summit.

Looking ahead to tomorrow, the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma has placed most of interior New England in the 30% risk area of severe weather, which may not be so uncommon to areas of the Midwest last month, but is certainly a surefire sign that inclement weather is on the way for the Whites. A combination of a strong cold front and high humidity levels will factor in to make tomorrow afternoon a good time to find some indoor activities. Plan your hikes accordingly please and stay tuned to the higher summits forecast higher summits forecast tomorrow!

Happy Storm Watching!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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