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Observer Comments

July 2013

18:15 Wed Jul 31st

Is it really almost August already? It seems like two shifts ago we were just moving into July with Seek the Peak on the horizon. There is no doubt that this summer has been busy and will continue to be. What that means for Observers is staying on top of our game and preparing for winter as it is just around the corner. Taking advantage of getting outside to fix equipment and install new data collection centers for this upcoming winter is crucial while we still have the daylight and mild weather. It is amazing how time flies on the Summit.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

15:34 Tue Jul 30th

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Clear View vs. Fog View

New England is known for it's variability in weather; how the region can see all four seasons in a matter of days. For instance, a typical March in New England can include a blizzard, single-digit wind chills, 80 degree heat, and destructive flooding. With weather that can change in the blink of an eye, it is very important to frequently check the weather. The importance becomes even greater when dealing with severe weather. Yesterday we observed a line of strong thunderstorms moving across New Hampshire into Maine. Initially these storms were moving northeast at about 15mph when suddenly they stalled for almost an hour and continued to build about 20 miles southwest of the summit. The result was the storms arriving over top the mountain about an hour later than originally expected. This was a prime example of why it is always important to keep a constant eye on the weather and not just check one time, especially in New England where it can change so quickly.

Mt Washington is perhaps the epitome of New England's variable weather conditions. One second you may barely be able to see 15 feet ahead of you, a few seconds later and you can see over 100 miles! That means you can see 35,000 times as far in a matter of seconds, only to once again be socked in by the clouds and see no more than 15 feet a minute later. Mount Washington also has extremely variable winds. On April 23, 1993 the winds went from calm to over 100mph in under 6 hours. While that won't happen every day, it is still a good idea to frequently check the Higher Summits Forecast, MWV Forecast, and the radar in order to keep on top of New England and Mount Washington's highly variable weather.

Matthew Cann – Summit Intern

15:44 Mon Jul 29th

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Ocean of Clouds

It's been another eventful week on the rockpile. Arriving at the base last Wednesday, at 8 A.M. and after 5 hours of driving, I was as tired as ever. We were socked in by the time we reached the summit, and it seemed like another dull, drizzly day was in store. But one thing I've learned here is to always be prepared for the unexpected, and to know that the dullest days can turn into the most extraordinary in an instant. In this case, a thick fog we anticipated to last through most of the night broke up just before sunset, unveiling one of the most incredible sights I've ever laid eyes on. I had always dreamed of seeing it, and there it was -- an expansive, unbroken undercast. We were the only point above the clouds for dozens of miles.

Undercast, or solid cloud-cover beneath the point of observation (analogous to an overcast, which indicates cloud cover above the point of observation), is more common during the winter months, but can occur in the summer given the right synoptic conditions. A few elements are at play -- plenty of atmospheric moisture near the surface must be coupled with a strong temperature inversion and dry air aloft. Temperature inversions are situations in which temperatures rise, rather than fall, as one gains height through the atmosphere, and have the effect of 'trapping' whatever particles are below them -- such as water droplets.

This time, a unique series of events allowed for this very setup. A low pressure system had just passed the region, its warm front delivering plenty of showers and bringing high humidity levels to the valleys. However, the cold front associated with this system, packing very cold, dry air, began to overtake the 'warm sector' behind the warm front, with the warm front entirely dissipating. Having a higher density, this cold air bulldozed underneath the warmer air we had just seen, sending it aloft. The cold air became bunched up against the leading edge of the front to create a 'bubble' of particularly chilly air rising well above the summits, causing temperatures here to drop toward 37 before sunset. Low-level moisture began to condense, creating low clouds, due to the cooler air present, and low-level temperatures would continue to drop through the night -- however farther behind the leading edge of the front, the cold air layer was far shallower, and the overriding warm air, whose moisture had been entirely precipitated out, began to extend deeper. Droplets near the top of the cloud layer evaporate upon meeting this boundary -- the inversion boundary -- which dropped below the summit just before sunset. At the time, we saw a temperature spike of 10 degrees in 15 minutes, and finally emerged from the fog.

When we noticed the undercast, everyone ran outside. Buffeted by 40 mile per hour winds and temperatures still well into the 40s, we put dinner on hold to run around the summit and take pictures. Watching the sun slowly set over an ocean of clouds was like standing on top of the world, and is something I'll never forget. It's my second to last shift, and I can't wait to see what other surprises may be in store.

Luke Davis – Summit Intern

18:11 Sat Jul 27th

After taking an AIRE Avalanche I class this winter, some of the most important material I learned wasn't about avalanches themselves but rather decision making in the backcountry. Sometimes weather changes slowly and there are subtle clues that bad weather may be moving in. If you've ever been hiking before bad weather moves through, it's easy to ignore what's happening above you until you're surrounded by fog, and possibly endangering yourself. Taking a notebook with you on your hike can allow you to jot down cloud cover, cloud types and any other significant meteorological observations. Of course, becoming familiar with different cloud types and their significance in changing weather can also be helpful.

After a beautiful and busy day on the summit, we are expecting another round of fog, precipitation and unsettled weather for the next few days. Stay safe and if you're thinking about going out for a hike, be informed and check our 36 hour higher summits forecast, posted before 6 AM every morning. Even if you're hitting the trail before then, you can call our weather phone (603-356-2137, option 1) from the mountain and hear the higher summits forecast.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

17:07 Fri Jul 26th

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Sunset and Undercast on Wednesday

After two relatively nice days, (and two beautiful sunsets in a row) we've returned back to foggy conditions on the summit. A coastal system is passing by to our east, which is unusual for summer. Storms similar to this one are much more common in the winter, when they are called 'Nor'easters', a familiar term to most people in New England, which often bring heavy snow and gusty winds from the northeast. This past winter in particular saw plenty of strong Nor'easters for New England, with winter storm 'Nemo' dropping a single storm record of 31.9 inches in Portland, and 317.5 inches of snow falling for our seasonal total for the summit. That's 36.3 inches above average up here, or 3 feet!

With the passing of this storm I'm reminded that in only a few short weeks summer will be coming to an end and before long snow and ice will be returning to the summit once again. Typically our first snowstorm of the season starts in September, but snow is possible at any time of year on the summit and has been recorded every month of the year. I still personally have plenty of hiking I'd like to get done before the warm weather ends, and hopefully the weather will cooperate with that in the next few weeks. So if you still haven't had a chance to visit the summit yet this summer, be sure to come up in the next few weeks while the weather is still warm!

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

14:54 Thu Jul 25th

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STP '13

Despite an ominous forecast predicting hurricane-force winds, severe thunderstorms and hail, an estimated 400 hikers and their families came out for Mount Washington Observatory's 13th annual Seek the Peak hike-a-thon July 19-21. To avoid the dangerous conditions, participants were directed to hike on Sunday instead of the usual Saturday ascent, and were rewarded for their efforts with more than $30,000 in prizes and incentives, as well as a huge after party with live music and an all-you-can-eat feast. The event was presented by Eastern Mountain Sports, Subaru and Vasque, with support from Fairpoint Communications and Blue Cross Blue Shield in New Hampshire.

'Our 'lucky' number thirteen event threw us a major curveball with the weather, but our hikers adjusted their plans accordingly and I'm happy to report that everyone enjoyed the weekend without incident,' says Mount Washington Observatory Executive Director Scot Henley.

The usual two-day event began with free food and drinks from Flatbread Company and Tuckerman Brewing Company on Friday, July 19, followed by the famous after party on Saturday, July 20. Due to Saturday's severe weather, the hike was moved to Sunday, July 21, when hikers enjoyed a complimentary tour of Mount Washington Observatory's mountaintop weather station.

All hikers who met the event's $200 fundraising minimum were given an Eastern Mountain Sports Techwick t-shirt and an EMS day pack loaded with freebies. Those who exceeded the $200 minimum were awarded incentives based on their fundraising total, including headlamps, multi-tools, jackets, tents, kayaks and more.

The top fundraiser was Chris Choma of Reading, MA, who single-handedly raised $19,025. He was rewarded for his efforts with a 'Keys to the Castle' ultimate Mount Washington adventure featuring private snow cat transportation and overnight accommodations for six at the Observatory's mountaintop weather station. Choma's team, Team Chawkanaw, clenched first place in the team division with $20,000 raised, and were each awarded $100 gift cards to Eastern Mountain Sports. The second place team, The Kilted Hikers, raised $8,662.20 and received $50 gift cards. 36 hikers raised $1,000 or more, each receiving an Eastern Mountain Sports soft shell jacket embroidered with the Mount Washington Observatory and Seek the Peak logos.

Other prizes included a one-year lease on a 2014 Subaru Outback, a $500 shopping spree at Settlers' Green Outlet Village, an all-inclusive Mount Washington Observatory winter day trip for two, a $250 Eastern Mountain Sports gift card, and outdoor gear and gadgets ranging from boots, to backpacks, to GPS units.

'Prizes provide a powerful incentive for our participants,' says Events and Marketing Manager Krissy Fraser, 'and our sponsors make that possible. We are incredibly thankful for their support.'

Seek the Peak has raised more than $1.3 million over its thirteen year history, supporting the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory's work in weather observation, research and education. This success has been possible not only through the efforts of dedicated hikers, their donors, and corporate sponsors, but also a small army of volunteers.

'54 volunteers donated their time and talents this year,' says Fraser. 'It's an understatement to say that this event would not be possible without them.'

Cara Rudio – Director of Advancement

14:22 Wed Jul 24th

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An Osprey In Flight.

Tonight (Wednesday) at our free Weather Discovery Center in North Conway Village at 7PM marks the second program in our annual free series 'Science in the Mountains: A Passport to Science.' Iain MacLeod, the Executive Director of the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center presents 'Project OspreyTrack: Using Satellite Transmitters to Track New Hampshire Ospreys.' Iain's program will provide an in-depth look at his research tracking the amazing and hazardous migrations of ospreys who travel annually between New Hampshire and South America.

If you can't join us this evening, fear not, as we continue our Science in the Mountains series with four additional programs over the next four Wednesdays. Topics range from 'The Ecology of the North Woods' to 'Black Bear Happenings in New Hampshire.' Hope to see you there! Happy Shift Day!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:11 Tue Jul 23rd

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Tower on the summit.

Being a first-time volunteer on the summit is like being a guest in someone else's house. Our ostensible job is to cook and clean and enjoy the activities. The secret and hidden job is to figure out how to fit into a complex, efficient, and friendly system that is designed and has evolved to get certain results. We volunteers are an important part of that system, but it is important for us to figure out how to best fit in. So, here is a novice's guide to that system, with some hints for being most useful.

The "real" staff consists of three Observers. All of them have some background and certification in meteorology, but one of them is the "real" meteorologist, who writes the forecasts and is a resource to the entire team. The second staffer is a specialist in education and outreach, and is responsible for media and programs. The third is a techie, who does IT and maintenance of all of the hardware and software. All three of them share recording and reporting duties; two of them are on the day shift, and one of them on the night shift. These three professionals are the foundation of the team. Then there are two interns, either college students or recent grads, who assist with all duties and are on-board for 4 months; they each perform their own research project, under the guidance of the Obs' research director, Eric. During the summer months, an additional employee is the Museum Attendant, who also manages the Obs retail shop on the summit. Then there are the two volunteers, who try to keep everyone well-fed and happy. The whole team comes up to the summit on Wednesday morning - by van or truck in the summer and by Bombardier in the winter - and goes back to the Valley the next week. Thus, eight days on and six days off. The two shifts alternate, year round. Quite a life!

So...my team: Becca, the Shift Leader, is an Energizer Bunny who packs more energy into her slight frame than biology and physics would seem to permit. She is kind and funny and a great resource. Ryan is the Staff Meteorologist, whose name is familiar to all of us from his great forecasts and blogs. He, too, has a trenchant sense of humor and a deep base of knowledge and experience. The final musketeer is Roger, the IT guy. He's quiet and effective, and he sees and understands everything. What a GREAT crew. The two interns, Kaitlyn (recent grad of University of Oklahoma, Norman) and Alex (Valparaiso University), are as different as night and day; Kaitlyn has an infectious laugh, and quiet Alex is always on the move. Anthony (AJ), the museum attendant, is - to my surprise - some of the glue of the team; he is gentle and wise beyond his years. Then there is Dennis, my volunteer mentor. A middle school science teacher and formerly a cook in a series of restaurants, his background is perfect for this job. He has spent ten previous weeks on the summit, four as a Science-Teacher extern, and six as a volunteer. If you want something done, or a problem solved, ask Dennis. Then, of course, there is Marty (the summit cat)!

A well-functioning organization is a combination of MISSION, PEOPLE, and SYSTEMS. The Mount Washington Observatory works so well because it has all three, and all three are terrific. If you have the opportunity to volunteer, do so! You'll learn about weather, you'll eat great food, you'll work with wonderful people, and you'll see how a world-class organization gets things done.

Observer Footnote: If you're going to be in North Conway Village Wednesday night and are looking for something educational and fun to do, stop by the Weather Discovery Center for our weekly Science in the Mountains lecture series. These talks occur every Wednesday night at 7PM from now until August 21st. Tomorrow's talk is all about Ospreys and Osprey migration, presented by Squam Lakes Natural Science Center Executive Director Iain MacLeod. There will even be a live Osprey joining us, so we hope to see you there!

Donald Kollisch – Summit Volunteer

18:03 Mon Jul 22nd

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The Cog descending to the valley Sunday afternoon

This past weekend was a wonderful experience, as it was my first time assisting with Seek the Peak activities. It was a huge success and I got to meet so many wonderful participants, volunteers, Observatory members, and all of their families. I know I'm not alone when I extend a huge thank you to everyone who made the event possible and very memorable, particularly for a first-time intern!

With only two shifts left to work on the summit, the reality of my internship experience coming to a close is slowly setting in. I'm trying to make the most of every minute, catch every last available sunset, and wrap up my research project. As these last few weeks of summer escape me way too quickly, I've got to be sure to savor every fleeting moment!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Summit Intern

17:23 Sun Jul 21st

Busy weeks on on the summit can really make a shift fly by. This week was no exception to this rule with all the fun and festivities of Seek the Peak. With cleaning and prepping to do in the tower, cookies to bake, and organizing to be done, it was a wild event. As everything finally settled down today around 5pm, I realized it was almost Monday. This is one of those weeks I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed come Wednesday, so I am glad the week is flying by. Overall, this week's events went off without any major issues and were successful. Let the planning for Seek the Peak 14 begin!

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

21:08 Sat Jul 20th

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Sunset this evening!

Seek the Peak is more-or-less a wrap. Most of the summit staff was lucky enough to drive down this afternoon and partake in the delicious turkey dinner catered by Hart's Turkey Farm and join in the festivities held at Great Glen Trails. Thanks to all our valley staff, volunteers, sponsors, and helping hands, everything went off flawlessly. It was great seeing familiar faces and meeting several new ones. And it was great cheering on the winners of all the various prizes. Then we finished the evening helping everyone clean up after the event then returning to the peak to see a bit of a sunset.

With better weather returning on Sunday, we look forward to some participants summiting and taking a free Observatory tour. And once our valley staff gets some much needed rest and relaxation after several days/weeks/months of work leading up to this event, we will get some more information (head count, prizes won, etc) to share with everyone. Thank you for everyone who participated and we look forward to seeing you up here at some point to take a tour of our work and thank you in person.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

14:12 Fri Jul 19th

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Seek The Peak 13 is here!

Registration is open and the kick-off party gets underway at 5pm. The goodie bags, t-shirts, and incentives are staged and ready to go - come on down and get your new gear!

Though the sun is shining today, a cold front moving in tonight is expected to bring dangerous conditions tomorrow. At this time we are predicting high winds averaging 60-80mph for most of the day, with the potential for sudden gusts over 100mph. There will be periods of heavy rain and severe thunderstorms that may bring localized flooding and dangerous water crossings along various trails throughout the region. There is also a high probability of hail formation. Given these dangerous conditions, we are asking Seek the Peak participants not to hike on Saturday, and are canceling Seek the Peak summit weather station tours for the day. Tour passes will be issued to all participants at registration, and may be redeemed any other day this summer.

Sunday will bring a return to favorable hiking conditions, with cooler temperatures, calm winds, and partly sunny skies. We strongly urge all participants to hike on Sunday.

Saturday's expo, annual meeting and after party are still on, but the schedule may be adjusted slightly earlier or later if conditions warrant. Please watch for updates via email, Facebook, and SeekthePeak.org, and pass this information along to others you are hiking with.

All great adventures in the mountains entail a certain degree of risk, and Seek the Peak is no exception. Whenever you go into the mountains, always check the weather, familiarize yourself with safe hiking practices, and advise your friends to do the same. Let's all help each other stay safe and have fun this weekend!

Krissy Fraser – Events and Marketing Manager

22:48 Thu Jul 18th

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Seek the Peak 13 is here!

As you know, tomorrow is our biggest event of the year: Seek the Peak!

In addition to being our most important annual fundraiser, Seek the Peak is also a reunion of sorts, gathering current and past Observatory employees, board members, volunteers, members, new and returning hikers, and some of our most valued partners. It's a huge, two-day party we look forward to all year long.

2013 marks our 13th annual event, and for the first time in the hike-a-thon's history, Mother Nature has decided to throw us a curveball. Given the frequency of thunderstorms during the summer months, it's somewhat of a miracle that we haven't had to deal with severe weather in the past, but it looks like our 'lucky' number 13 event is going to make up for it all in one day!

The higher summits forecast for Saturday is ominous at best: At this time we are predicting intermittent heavy rain, severe thunderstorms, high winds (sustained at or above 50mph with sudden higher gusts), and pockets of hail. Though it is not possible to pinpoint the exact time when these conditions will arrive, the potential for severe weather and lack of shelter above treeline dictates utmost prudence. Therefore, our advice to participants at this time is to plan on postponing your higher summits hike until Sunday, which is expected to be a calm, cool, and otherwise beautiful day.

Friday's events and the Saturday after party are still on, though we may have to slightly adjust the timing of the after party especially if severe conditions occur. Rest assured that we will still be awarding all those hard-earned prizes and incentives - Seek the Peak always delivers the goods!

We remind you that mountain weather changes quickly, so please watch your inbox and our Facebook page for further information. We will post updates as the forecast evolves.

In the meantime...think sun! We've got 500 Eastern Mountain Sports Esker Day Packs loaded with freebies, a mountain of EMS Techwick event tees, and hundreds of incredible prizes and incentives ready to be passed along to their very deserving new owners. Presented by Eastern Mountain Sports, Subaru and Vasque with support from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in New Hampshire and Fairpoint Communications, the Nation's Premier Hiking Event kicks off tomorrow at 2pm with registration, followed by a kick-off party in the Weather Discovery Center at 5pm. Lace up your hiking boots, and see you there!

Cara Rudio – Director of Advancement

23:20 Wed Jul 17th

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Marty Kitty - My research assistant.

My name is Matt Cann and I am not a typical member of the Mount Washington Observatory crew. I am a summit intern, but I do not share the same duties as my fellow interns. So what do I do? Well, starting this summer, the Observatory decided to implement a fifth summer intern whose sole responsibility is to conduct research. Being positioned on the summit allows me to better familiarize myself with the White Mountain's unique weather, as well as permit me access to the Observatory's vast record of historical weather data. My research is a utilization of the exciting and recent partnership between the Observatory and Plymouth State University. The Director of Research at the Mount Washington Observatory and Research Assistant Professor at PSU, Eric Kelsey, and I will be working together to evaluate how accurate a weather forecasting model can predict weather conditions in the White Mountains.

We are currently able to receive forecasts from two models provided by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP): the North American Mesoscale Forecasting System (NAM) and the Global Forecasting System (GFS). Eric and I will be testing the Weather Research and Forecast model (WRF) and its ability to forecast compared to the models we currently use to make our forecasts on the summit. The WRF model will be run by Eric on the servers at Plymouth State University to forecast three-day periods for four selected weather situations from 2012; the situations include a summit blizzard, the record heat wave of early spring in March, a heavy rain event and a thunderstorm event. The forecasts will be checked for accuracy with the archived data from 26 sites throughout the White Mountains, from summit to valley floor. The bulk of the weather stations are from MWObs' extensive Mesonet, which includes the auto-road vertical profile as well as many popular ski areas in the White Mountains.

The WRF is known to be skilled at forecasting for unique and difficult terrain similar to the White Mountains. The hope of my research is to discover that the WRF has a very high ability to forecast for the region. If so, forecasters will be able to use the model to improve forecasts for the higher summits and valleys of the White Mountains. The long-term goal of this project is to build a stronger relationship with the local White Mountain ski areas by providing them more accurate forecasts via the WRF.

If you are interested in local weather, I recommend visiting the Mount Washington Observatory and the Plymouth State Weather Center for more information.

Matthew Cann – Summit Intern

15:03 Tue Jul 16th

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Marty on the Deck

With no windows in the Museum, I see minimum sunlight throughout the day. That is if we are not in the fog. The Museum is located in the basement of the Sherman Adams Building. I spend the majority of my 12 hour day down there.

With that being said, I enjoy my hour in the morning to head outside for some peace and quiet before the crowds rush in and I am occupied selling t-shirts, gifts, and memberships to those who would like an inside tour of our weather station.

I wake up and check the webcams to see if we are in the clear. If so, I take a jaunt outside. Marty follows behind as I walk upstairs and out the doors. Marty is more a follower than a leader. He will follow me where ever I roam. He himself does enjoy the burst of heat given off by the bright sun. He will plop himself down, roll in some dirt, and then sunbathe for the next few minutes while I watch and observe him.

I must admit he has quite the personality when he wants some attention. He sure knows how to pose for the camera. When it's about time to open up, I let him know I am heading inside, and he follows me back in. He will MEOWW most of the time, letting me know he is right behind me and to not walk to far ahead. He then follows me into the museum where he will wait until the first wave of summit guests arrive, and then he quickly sneaks his way back into the living quarters to claim his seat on the couch for the rest of the day.

Samantha Brady – Summit Museum Attendant

16:18 Mon Jul 15th

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Meteorologist Mike Carmon showing the Hays Chart.

Tours, Tours, Tours.

As you may know, especially if you're a member, we offer free tours of our famous mountaintop weather station throughout the year to members of our non-profit organization (mostly in the warmer months as you might imagine). Today, after a quiet Sunday on the summit our shift offered five tours to a variety of interested members who wanted to learn more about the inner-workings of the Observatory and gain a deeper understanding of what it is we do here on a daily basis. One group came all the way from Maryland!

As we continue the countdown to Seek the Peak (this FRIDAY and SATURDAY!!) we are gearing up for a full-on open house Saturday from 9:30AM through 3:00PM for every participant who is interested in receiving a complimentary tour and delicious refreshments with the crew-- fresh-baked cookies anyone??

For those of you who are interested in setting up a tour any other day, please do not hesitate to reach our Education/Outreach staff at either Outreach@MountWashington.org or Education@MountWashington.org, or call (603) 356-2137, ext. 211!

As for the rest of you, see you this weekend at SEEK THE PEAK!!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

19:02 Sun Jul 14th

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Mt. Washington Casting its Shadow to the SW

Ever heard someone say a mountain is very 'prominent', but not know exactly what that means? That has certainly been the case for myself in the past, but after the topic came up this morning I decided to finally look it up. Mountain prominence, or topographic prominence, is a somewhat confusing topic but I'll do my best to explain it here.

Prominence is defined as the lowest point encircling a mountain peak before rising to a higher peak than the original. In the case of Mount Washington the summit is the highest point in the Northeast, and therefore in order to find the closet higher peak you would have to travel to almost 820 miles to Celo Knob (6327 ft) in North Carolina. The lowest point in a line between these two peaks is then subtracted from Mount Washington's elevation to give you the mountain's prominence. In this case the lowest point is along the Champlain Canal in New York, at only about 140 feet above sea level (sea level is not considered the lowest point unless the mountain is the highest on the entire continent or an island). So Mount Washington's prominence is 6288ft ῜ 140ft = 6148ft. The summit is the most prominent peak in the Eastern United States, even though there are slightly higher peaks in Black Mountains of NC and the Great Smoky Mountains on the TN/NC border.

So why is prominence of a mountain important? Mountaineers often care about prominence because it shows how significant the mountain is in relation to the surrounding landscape. For example Mount Massive in Colorado (14,428 ft) is a very large mountain (appropriately named), and the second highest in the state. The prominence of the mountain is only 1941ft in the valley below however, since only 5 miles away is Mount Elbert, the state's highest point. Another important part of very prominent mountains is that they have excellent views of the surrounding terrain. Since Mount Washington is very prominent above the surrounding terrain and considered an ultra-prominent peak (over 4900 ft), our maximum visibility from the summit is an incredible 134 miles! So the next time you hear someone talk about a mountain being 'prominent' hopefully you'll understand this somewhat confusing term, and if you've been lucky enough to visit the summit of Mount Washington you can even brag about making it to the top of the most prominent peak in the East!

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

14:25 Sat Jul 13th

Seek the Peak 2013, our 13th annual hike-a-thon, kicks off this coming Friday, July 19th!

Seek the Peak is our largest fundraiser, so why not hike for a great cause?

If you have not registered yet, you are not too late! Go here, and you can register yourself, or even as part of a team. There's still plenty of time to fundraise!

The event starts on Friday afternoon with registration at the Weather Discovery Center (WDC) in North Conway. After you register, head on up to the kick-off party, which commences at 5PM in the WDC museum. There will be food and beverages served, and you can check out our free interactive exhibits in the museum.

On Saturday, the event kicks into full swing. After hiking up to the summit via the trail of your choosing, stop in and receive a complimentary tour of the summit weather station! You'll get an awesome behind-the-scenes look at the hard work the summit crew does to keep the weather data flowing!

Once you hike back down, head on over to the after party at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, which kicks off at 4PM. There will be live music, giveaways, and an all-you-can-eat dinner, while you mingle with your fellow hikers and supporters!

Check out seekthepeak.org for information on prizes, hiker resources, a complete schedule of events, a link to purchase after party tickets, and more FAQ's.

And don't forget, if you wish to participate and you haven't registered yet, head on over to this link!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

08:29 Fri Jul 12th

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Passing Storm on June 29th

Adjusting to life on the rockpile has been a unique experience. While up here, you quickly become accustomed to a busy schedule.

I wake up around 6AM and get to work no later than 7AM. It's time to start on the research project, which is how the majority of the day will be spent. Between data mining, which can require coding, extensive data analysis with excel, researching important external information, and producing presentable results, there's always something to do. Sometimes, I'll hit a wall. Other times, I'll hit a major breakthrough, and it's impossible to tear myself away from the computer. And at other times, there's a steady amount of work to do that will bug me until it's finished before I can even attempt to draw conclusions. I have about three hours of retail duty per day -- once at around 10, again at 1, and again just before the end of the day. At around 3, it's time to create and record the higher summits short-term forecast to be broadcast over the visitor information radio station, and posted to our website. For this I'll look at the model numbers, several maps output by the models, and NOAA's regional outlook. Whenever there's spare time, I'll get some work done on the project. But each day is never exactly the same as the next. Sometimes there are routine weather summaries or other short articles to write, or sometimes we'll need to manage things on our website and facebook page. Sometimes, and most importantly, members come up to get tours or our facility. These are usually pretty fun, and give me the opportunity to try to get visitors as interested and enthusiastic about the observatory and the science behind the atmosphere as I am.

On days with steady precipitation or thick fog, I might never step outside. We all goof around more on these days to keep ourselves sane. On days with fair weather, if I have time, a quick late afternoon hike to Clay, Monroe, or through the Alpine Gardens is always an option. Working on top of a mountain, all of us at the observatory have a passion for the great outdoors. And on the most exciting days, if something's happening outside, we'll all be gathered around the windows and the radar display, or snapping some photos on the deck. Whether late spring riming or sleet, an approaching thunderstorm complex, a particularly breathtaking sunset, interesting cloud formations popping up, a break in the fog after being socked in for several days, or unusually high winds, a week never seems to pass without a few moments of drama.

By 7PM, the day is over. It's time for dinner at 8, and bed by around 10. Before you know it, Tuesday is here, clean-up day for our quarters. And on Wednesday, after participating in a few meetings before noon, it's time to head down so that the other shift can take over. I won't come back up until the next Wednesday morning -- and with so much going on when we're on shift, it's hard sometimes to adjust to so many days off. I can go hiking if the heat isn't too much to bear, visit family and friends, travel for a few days, or just try to relax. But by the end of the week, I'm always ready to come back up. My time at the observatory will probably be over before I know it, but it's already been an adventure.

Luke Davis – Summit Intern

17:15 Wed Jul 10th

What an interesting week I've had as a volunteer at the Observatory! In exchange for cooking dinner for the summit staff and keeping the common areas tidy, I got to spend an entire week living up here on the summit. Of course, the weather could have cooperated a bit more as we were socked in by clouds and fog on most days. I did, however, get to see a couple of amazing sunsets (one from Lakes of the Clouds) and one sunrise peeking out from behind the passing clouds. Last night, the summit was mostly clear, the wind had died completely and there were clouds in the valleys with the peaks jutting up out of them. Turnabout is fair play, right? It was a beautiful night on the summit of Mt. Washington. Thank you MWOBS for this unique experience.

Phyllis Simon – Summit Volunteer

00:14 Wed Jul 10th

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Hiking down to Lakes of the Clouds.

I cannot believe that a whole week has past already, and what an incredible learning experience this has been. When I first learned that the Mount Washington Observatory has a volunteer program, I took great interest in wanting to sign up. Even though my first day was a bit overwhelming, it didn't take long to get myself adjusted to my new environment.

Having my own bed and a shared living room, with a television and many movies to choose from, I almost forgot where I was until I looked out the window to see mountain tops with an undercast. Even though we were in the clouds just about the entire week, Mother Nature managed to give us some breaks allowing for a hike to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut to see the sun set, watching fireworks in Bretton Woods, and having experienced my first hike in the dark to see every star in the night sky.

Thank you to all the observers and staff for this memorable week. And a special thank you to Marty the summit cat who has been nothing but heartwarming during my stay at the 'Home of the Worlds Worst Weather.'

Jennifer Nefedov – Summit Volunteer

16:00 Mon Jul 8th

This month there are two positions to apply for on the Rockpile. With the departure of our former IT Observer, a Weather Observer-Technology Specialist position needs to be filled. If you are interested in an opportunity to live and work at the 'Home of the World's Worst Weather' and you have a passion for meteorology with a background in technology/computer science, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime. Please visit our Jobs page for a full description and application requirements. The application deadline is 5pm July 26th.

The second opportunity on the summit is for Fall Internships. Our unique internship program has room for two Interns this upcoming Fall. If you have a passion for weather, the environment, science, and the mountain, this could be a perfect fit. For more information, view our Internship page with details on how you can apply. The deadline to apply is Midnight on July 15th.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

18:16 Sun Jul 7th

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View of the sunset from Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Being socked in the fog for an entire shift gets old quickly. Luckily, conditions began to clear up yesterday and that made for the perfect opportunity to take an evening hike down to Lakes of the Clouds. Once we were all packed up, Alex, Rebecca, our two volunteers (Jenny and Phyllis), and I started down the Crawford Path. Visibility was the best we've seen all week and it was obvious everyone was enjoying the clarity! Once we arrived at the hut, all focus turned to the horizon to catch the sunset; a scene that I've found never gets old. Beautiful hues of pink and orange shocked the sky with color above the ashen silhouettes of distant mountains, offering a taste of nature's intuitive knack for perfect contrast. Once we all had our fill of the view, we began the trek back up to the summit just in time to catch Bretton Woods' fireworks display.

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Summit Intern

16:51 Sat Jul 6th

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Biker at the Finish Line

Newton's Revenge is an annual bicycle race that is held on the Mount Washington Auto Road. This year's race took place today, as bikers began their ascent of the 6,288ft mountain at 8:20 this morning. Newton's Revenge has been considered one of the toughest hill climbs in the world, with steep grades and extreme weather challenging even the best of athletes. Bikers in today's race had to ascend 4,727ft up the 7.6 mile long auto road. The road has an average grade of 12%, with the steepest section of the road holding off until the last 100 yards of the race, where it ramps up to 22%! If the steep climb isn't enough to challenge the bikers, Mother Nature will do a good job of hindering the racer's progress up the mountain. Weather conditions on the summit shortly before 9am this morning displayed NW winds at 51mph gusting to 56mph. This meant that bikers were exposed to the strong crosswind though the final 1.6 miles of the race! Along with the high winds, a dense cloud layer was present over the summit through the entire morning, restricting visibility to just a few feet!

The Mount Washington Auto Road has been holding an annual bicycle race since 1973. The event quickly gained popularity, and in 2006, the Auto Road had to hold a second bike race to accommodate the increasing number of bikers. The second bike race was named Newton's Revenge, and has been held every year since 2006. The record time for the men's division was set at 49min 24sec in the year 2002 by Thomas Danielson, and the record women's time was set in 2000 by Jennie Longo with a time of 58min 14sec. Interestingly, these records are similar to the record times for running up the auto road. The record men and women times for running the auto road are 56min 41sec and 1hour 8min 20sec respectively.

Alex Carne – Summit Intern

17:56 Fri Jul 5th

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July 19th will kick off our 13th annual Seek The Peak event, which is a fundraising event for our non-profit Mount Washington Observatory. With spaces still available, it is not too late to join in on the fun and participate in the Nation's premier hiking event. Registration is free, however, a $200 minimum fundraising amount is required to participate. Once this is achieved, you can be well on your way to receiving a Seek the Peak EMS Techwick Tee, EMS Erratic pack filled with freebies, and entered to win many great prizes. As you meet further fundraising goals, you will receive more freebies and be entered to win even more great prizes. Seek The Peak is not a race, making it perfect for anyone to participate; so sign-up today!

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

21:01 Thu Jul 4th

Happy 4th of July! To honor and celebrate our country's past and heritage, the summit crew has decorated the weather room in red, white, and blue. While we may not be able to see fireworks in the valley this year, mother nature is trying to give us a show. Clouds have kept the summit in the clouds all day and with an approaching line of thunderstorms will likely continue this unsettled trend overnight. On the other hand, since we're a bunch of weather enthusiasts, a show from above would certainly be welcome.

As a crew, we are also going to enjoy some 4th of July food. With a large crock of our favorite soup cooking and bread rising, we won't be missing out on that front. Rumor has it there is a delicious red, white, and blue cake waiting for us later!

Rebecca Scholand – Director of Education

18:06 Wed Jul 3rd

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LS3 and I on the Summit

The Mount Washington Observatory has been utilized in the past for product testing, and why not? For some conditions such as high elevation, high winds, cold temperatures, and icing conditions, it's something we are a natural fit for. Companies have brought up everything from tents to dialysis machines to test with us. This past Thursday, though, was a first for us: robots.

We were joined by robotics company Boston Dynamics to test their LS3 robot at a high elevation. This robot is legged and walks around like a horse or mule. It's designed to go where Marines go on foot and is able to carry 400 lbs of gear, helping to reduce the load soldiers are carrying. It's smart enough that it doesn't need a driver and can automatically follow a leader. Thanks to cooperation between the Mount Washington Auto Road and the Mount Washington State Park, we were able to have LS3 and Boston Dynamics join us at the Observatory for some scientific testing in one of the lower parking lots on the summit.

The day started with a 7:00am drive up the Auto Road, before it was open to the public, because we had to get a 26 foot long moving truck to the summit without any other traffic. The fog was so thick at the summit, we couldn't even see the edge of the parking lot. As the testing began, the clouds broke and we were able to get some fantastic views and great photos of LS3 on the summit. The forecast called for rain but we really lucked out, the weather held for the entire day, and Boston Dynamics was able to run a lot of tests. They drew a crowd from time to time but it was great to see how respectful everyone was of the work being done and kept a safe distance. After all tests were complete, we made the long trip down the Auto Road after it was closed to the public at 7:00pm. We had to make sure we took our time and didn't let the brakes get too hot on this large truck as we descended. An hour later, we made it to the base safe and sound.

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

14:00 Tue Jul 2nd

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A Fun Crew.

It's been a fun a rewarding week here on the summit. It's something that we have always wanted to do. The crew has been great and it was a real pleasure working with them. They are very appreciative of everything we do, especially dinners, cookies and brownies!

The first couple of days were a learning process of getting used to the routine and creating dinner menus for the week. There is a well stocked pantry and many items to choose from for dinners. It became easier as the days went by and now it seems to suddenly be coming to an end. We really enjoyed being here and appreciate the opportunity offered to Observatory members.

We have had plenty of free time but unfortunately we had a 'typical' Mount Washington weather week of fog and rain. We did manage to hike down to Lakes of the Clouds one day when there was a brief break in the weather. All in all it was a great week.

Mike and Dan – Summit Volunteers

17:47 Mon Jul 1st

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View looking west from the parapet

As we transition into the new month of July, we remain stuck in this seemingly unbreakable weather pattern. The offshore flow continues to bring moisture into the Northeast, and, when paired with the hot summer air, provides the perfect conditions for heavy rain and thunderstorms to develop. As a result the region has recently been dominated by flash flood and severe thunderstorm warnings. With the month of July ahead of us it is increasingly important to keep an eye out for severe weather. In the Northeast, July is one of the months with the most frequent severe and hazardous weather caused by thunderstorms and tornadoes. After witnessing a couple of tornado warnings in Massachusetts this afternoon, it is highly recommended that when planning a hike or day at the beach, you take a moment to check for active weather alerts in your area. Active weather alerts are available at the following website. Enjoy the summer, but remember to do so safely.

July is not all bad news. On Mount Washington, July is the time when the summit truly transitions from a barren and somewhat desolate environment to a verdant mountaintop swarmed with bevies of visitors from all regions of the globe. Where hikers, tourists and locals, young and old come to enjoy the beauty of Mount Washington. While on average July is the hottest month in the year, the peak of Mount Washington only averages a high temperature of about 54 degrees Fahrenheit in July. So a great way to beat the heat this summer is to summit the mountain, but remember to always stay hydrated!

On my third day working on the summit I was able to give a tour of the parapet to a few visitors from Scotland. As we stood at the highest point in the Northeast and gazed off into the distance, there was a brief moment when nobody spoke a word. A moment when their awe and astonishment resonated with my own, in a tune that sang along with the winds. At that moment we felt small, yet big at the same time - on top of the world. I strongly urge everyone who isn't a member to become one, and ask for a tour of the parapet. Experience the feeling of being on top of the world, of having your breath taken away, of losing the ability to conjure up any words to sum up your emotions. Instead, stare off into the distance and immerse yourself in the speechless beauty of our amazing planet, in a way unique to Mount Washington.

Matthew Cann – Summit Intern

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