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Observer Comments

October 2013

23:04 Thu Oct 31st

The wind is a-howlin'!

Just before I sat down to write these thoughts out, I ascended to our deck to take an hourly weather observation, and was met with a tremendous roar as I stepped outside. It's a sound that I have become quite familiar with over my time here, but one that is generally absent for a large portion of the generally-calmer summer months.

The rush of adrenaline when one opens the deck door and steps into the darkness, with the deafening roar of the wind immediately taking hold, is a feeling that has gone unmatched over my entire life, and I am very much looking forward to this experience through the rest of the night! Winds have peaked at 92 mph so far, but we are expecting gusts well over 100 mph in the 4-7AM timeframe, which would give our shift the distinct honor of achieving the first 100+ mph gust of the 2013-2014 winter season!

As weather nerds, we can't help but get greedy, though, and are fully expecting wind gusts over 110 mph, and maybe even in the realm of 120 mph!

We don't ask for much!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

13:23 Wed Oct 30th

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PSU Students Ready to Release Weather Balloon

My job is two-fold: Director of Research at the Observatory and Research Assistant Professor in New Hampshire's only meteorology program at Plymouth State University (PSU). My job embodies the new joint partnership between MWO and PSU and allows me to leverage resources of both institutions. I am always thinking of ways to integrate scientific research with student learning to advance our understanding of weather and climate while providing real research experiences that will help nurture the next generation of atmospheric scientists.

In my graduate-level Boundary Layer Meteorology course this fall, the eight students are getting a full-blown research experience. For their term project, they will write a proposal to study a boundary layer phenomenon, use PSU and MWO resources to observe this phenomenon, analyze the data, and use a high-resolution numerical model to simulate this phenomenon. They will assess the forecast skill of the model and help advance our understanding of how well the model can forecast this phenomenon, thus helping to improve weather forecasts.

The students chose to study the nocturnal boundary layer in Pinkham Notch on clear, calm nights. Under these conditions, cold, dense air pools in the valley bottom, and warmer air is pushed upward causing an increase in temperature with elevation, called an inversion, which is the opposite of what typically occurs during a sunny day. Tuesday morning had these conditions, so we drove at the wee-hours of the morning to launch weather balloons from the Auto Road base (thanks to the Auto Road for their support!). We launched two balloons before sunrise when the nocturnal inversion was at its strongest.

Now the fun continues as the students analyze the balloon data, compare it with the Auto Road Vertical Profile stations and simulate it with the numerical model. At the end of the semester, the students will write a scientific report of their results and present their findings to the public at PSU. The experiences enabled by the MWO-PSU partnership will surely help to launch their careers to high places!

Eric Kelsey – Director of Research

10:37 Tue Oct 29th

When I last updated you on the progress of Extreme Mount Washington, the Appalachian Mountain Club's Construction Crew had just arrived and completed their first week of demolition on the site of the former Mount Washington Observatory Summit Museum. The space is now transformed and bears little resemblance to its former self.

Outside, winter is tightening its grip on the higher summits of Northern New England, and the Observatory and AMC staff have begun utilizing chains to assist their travels up and down the Mount Washington Auto Road. Inside the Sherman Adams Building however, staff are kept warm and dry as new storage spaces and exhibit partition walls are completed, drywall is installed and taped, ceiling finishes are applied, and electrical switch locations are identified and installed. There will be 3 electricians joining the AMC staff this week to assist in the installation of electrical circuit conduits. Images of the process may be viewed on our Renovation Photos page. The skeleton of Extreme Mount Washington is taking shape.

As work begins we still have just over $40,000 left to raise on the project's $825,000 budget. Help us bring this important project to completion by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount on ExtremeMountWashington.org

Will Broussard – Outreach Coordinator

18:16 Mon Oct 28th

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Rotating Multi Cylinder

Today was a very interesting and exciting day on the summit. With the winds picking up to category 1 hurricane speeds and leading to extremely favorable conditions for rime ice, the Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) team (Kathy, Kerry and Sandra) worked around the clock to get as many measurements as possible. They were even kind enough to let me help on the project and teach me the mechanics of the Rotating Multi Cylinder. The Rotating Multi Cylinder project currently being conducted by the CRREL team will not only improve weather models, but also help in other engineering applications in the future. In the picture, you can see the Rotating Multi Cylinder set up on the tower, as well as me keeping warm in my Eastern Mountain Sports gear.

Pratik Patel – Summit Intern

19:03 Sun Oct 27th

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Sandra setting up for another run

As most of you probably already know our mission here at the MWObs is to 'Advance understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate, by maintaining its mountaintop weather station, conducting research and educational programs and interpreting the heritage of the Mount Washington region'. This week we've had the pleasure of hosting Researchers Kathy, Kerry and Sandra from the Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, NH.

While the picture that's included in this post may look like Sandra is getting ready to launch a small rocket skyward, that's not what's going on at all. Sandra is actually setting up an instrument that was developed here at the Observatory back in the 1940's called a Rotating Multi Cylinder. The Multi Cylinder is put outside facing into the flow of the wind, with water droplets that make up the fog we spend 60% of our time in. The Multi Cylinder is left outside until the very top element has collected enough ice to be the size of the second, rotating at approximately one revolution per minute. This process can take anywhere from four to twenty minutes. Once sufficient ice has built up, the entire Multi Cylinder is brought inside to the Cold Room where it's very carefully disassembled so that the ice can be weighted and measured to determine the rate of accretion, droplet size and liquid water content.

So by now you're probably asking 'Why does anyone care about how Rime Ice builds up on one of these Rotating Multi Cylinders?'. Well I'm so glad you asked. The data that is being gathered will be used to improve the weather models and predict when, where and how much rime ice will build up on a surface. This is some very important information to have if you're going to build structures like antennas, power lines, and wind farms or fly airplanes in conditions that are likely to see conditions where substantial amounts or Rime Ice can build up.

Since rime ice forms to differing degrees depending on the temperature, wind speed, and water content you need to make a lot of runs in varying conditions to collect adequate data for the models to be accurate. Between 1990 and 2013 CRREL has made 249 runs at the top of Mount Washington, the most of any location. With the ideal conditions we've had since we all arrived Wednesday the CRREL team has been able to make over 70 runs.

Roger Pushor – Weather Observer/IT Specialist

17:40 Sat Oct 26th

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Mt. Clay, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, Mt. Madison

Having the summits engulfed in fog for several hours this morning, we finally caught a lucky break and got an opportunity to see the presidentials with snow and rime on them. However, as the Alberta Clipper to the north of our location passes by, a cold front will move through the region bringing foggy conditions, bitter cold winds and snow showers back to the summits. Still, we did get a chance to enjoy this unmistakable view of the mountains and admire the beauty of Mt. Washington's extreme weather.

Pratik Patel – Summit Intern

19:47 Fri Oct 25th

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Our wintry drive up Wednesday.

I always say the summit has two seasons - summer and winter; and our past two shifts are a perfect example of this. Our last shift (9 October through 16 October), temperatures were running some 10 to 15 degrees above normal. This meant that daytime highs were running in the 40s and 50s (Fahrenheit) with the overnight lows remaining in the upper 30s to mid-40s. Additionally, winds remained low (less than 20 mph the entire time we were here) and we were more clear than foggy with visibilities at roughly 130 miles nearly the entire shift. All in all, it felt more like the first week of August and not of October.

Flash forward to this week and the summit has made a complete reversal going from summer straight into winter. Temperatures are now running more seasonable or (as of tonight) some 10 to 15 degrees below normal. Winds have been running significantly higher with numerous gusts reaching hurricane force. And since arriving on Wednesday, we have remained socked in the clouds with visibility limited to 130 feet at best as rime ice and snow continue to accumulate on a daily basis. And looking ahead for the remainder of our shift week, it looks like things will remain this way. So, for now, goodbye summer and hello winter.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:55 Thu Oct 24th

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My First Turn

Well it happened, my first ski turn of the season! With the weather depositing rime and a slight coating of snow, there was just enough to cover a small path. It may not have been technical, but gravity pulled me down the slope and that is what counts. Today's turn marks the second turn of the season, as Kevin from State Park made first tracks yesterday. If this isn't impressive for the sake of skiing, it should be a reminder that the weather on the summit is now very different from the valley below and one should remember the proper layers. I myself was bundled up for the cold (18F) and wind in my Eastern Mountain Sports gear.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

21:22 Wed Oct 23rd

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Summit Crew Putting On Chains

Today marked yet another checkpoint on our way to winter - putting chains on the tires. While I am an over the top advocate of winter weather, I hate putting on chains! First, there is nothing more annoying than getting my clothing dirty before I ever reach the summit. Putting on chains requires one to lie on the ground to wrestle dirty hooks and clasps into place. Second, it seems that no matter how neatly the chains are put away into their bin, they come out tangled. By tangled, I mean I would rather solve a Rubik's Cube most times. Third, chains are designed to be tight on the tire by way of design; however, this means an incredible struggle ensues. Usually the score is chains 1 - Becca 0. Today was different though. For the first time, I beat the chains! I don't know if it was because it was the first installation of the season luck, but I sure hope it continues until we can use the snowcat from top to bottom.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

18:33 Tue Oct 22nd

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(Left) Wind Speed Spike (Right) Pressure Spike

Have you ever been in a thunderstorm and, right before it starts raining, a very strong gust of wind blows through, thrashing trees and quite possibly breaking branches? These events, called downbursts, are often the most damaging part of a thunderstorm, forming in front of a thunderstorm by a column of rapidly descending air. These can also occur on the summit however they, along with the rest of the weather above tree line, are much more extreme compared to their counterparts at sea level. Lightning isn't the only thing you have to worry about in summer storms! Over the summer, we had several severe downbursts which allowed wind speeds to spike from a breezy 30 miles per hour to an unbearable 100 miles per hour or more. If caught unprepared, these winds can literally blow you off your feet, in addition to pelting you with hail strong enough to break the skin.

These events don't have to take place in a summer thunderstorm. Downbursts can occur with any highly convective system. Earlier this week, we had a line of heavy showers move through with a cold front, pushing wind from 30 miles per hour to over 70 miles per hour in a matter of seconds. The picture above shows what our charts look like after one of these downbursts-a spike in wind speed and sharp rise, or fall, in pressure.

No matter what season you're hiking in, always be prepared and check the weather before you venture outdoors!

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

16:36 Mon Oct 21st

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Observations from February 10, 1944

Since 1932 here on the summit, an observer has gone outside once an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year to take a weather observation. In that time, we have collected nearly 81 years of data; one of the longest, continuously running climate records in the nation. This data is very important to us, as it can be used for research. Currently, intern Tom Padham is using the summits wind data to evaluate its gustiness, so that one day we will have confidence in saying, for example, that with a southeast wind at 60-80 mph, the highest possible gust we could see would be 95 mph.

With computers only becoming prominent over the last 10+ years, the majority of our data is written down in books. Each book contains one year worth of observations. As one can imagine, trying to perform an analysis using tens of thousands of numbers without that data stored on a computer is near impossible.

That is where my intern project comes in. from 1932 to about 1950; much of our data has not been converted into digital format. Starting in 1948 and working my way backwards, I have been entering in various meteorological variables for each hour of every day. These include temperature, precipitation, sky cover, wind speed and direction, visibility, etc. One of the big challenges with this project is that early data collection varies from today's methods. For example, back then, fog was categorized as light, moderate or heavy, whereas today it is simply recorded as just fog. Also, some of the symbols used in earlier years to denote various meteorological phenomena are unlike the ones used today. This makes the process somewhat of a challenge, however I find it to be very interesting!

Samuel Hewitt – Summit Intern

16:38 Sun Oct 20th

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Rime along the S. Presi-Ridgeline

After waking up around 5:45 this morning and heading up to weather room, it seemed as if someone flicked a switch and winter had arrived overnight on the summit. Yesterday the small amount of rime ice we saw in the morning hours largely melted by the afternoon as temperatures rose above freezing and skies cleared. This morning I awoke to see our windows were covered with a new layer of ice, and even some light snow was falling. During observer Brian Fitzgerald's morning radio shows I suddenly heard the frequent ping of snow pellets hitting our windows, almost as if winter were knocking to announce its arrival on the summit.

After the snow had coated the ground and created a very wintry scene, we decided it was time for our famous feline to observe the newly fallen snow. After maneuvering Marty into his EMS jacket, (not an easy task) he took a few steps out onto the observation deck to see the snow for just long enough to grab a photo.

Looking at the weather for the next week, it seems as if winter is here to stay on the summit. A long wave trough will keep the jet stream diving south across the eastern United States, allowing colder air to funnel in from Canada. Temperatures on the summit look to stay near or below freezing for the majority of next week, with several more chances at snow. Looking forward to it!

Tom Padham – Summit Intern

17:12 Sat Oct 19th

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Observer Mike and Intern Tom working up top.

Icing season is upon us here on top of Mount Washington, and while we have been preparing for this for the past few months there is always more to do. Today Staff Meteorologist and Observer Mike Carmon and Intern Tom Padham have been busy taking care of a couple instruments ahead of some heavy icing events that we are expecting over the next few days. For a fairer-weather instruments, many have been brought inside ahead of the impending cold, while other experimental instruments are getting their first test in high winds and rime ice. Our transition from our shorter summer precipitation cans, to our taller winter cans also took place early this afternoon during the 'heat' of the day. The reason for the taller cans has to do with the on-average higher wind speeds that we experience in the winter. A taller can will ensure that whatever snow does fall in will hopefully not blow out. Finally, the winter storm windows have been out for several weeks by this point, while down at the base of the Auto Road our Snowcat's tracks are being installed along with the plow on our 4x4 truck.

As for the crew, we've had our winter EMS gear on the mountain for a while now and are starting to get our winter sport viewing in (NHL, NFL, NCAA Football, Wii Bowling and baseball).

For more information about our research and instrument testing capabilities at the observatory, visit our research page!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

13:24 Fri Oct 18th

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Good Morning once again from Brussels! The last day of the Meteorological Technology Expo was just as exciting as the first two, and I have had the pleasure of meeting many new instrumentation manufacturers and companies from all over the world. I have also really enjoyed being able to reconnect with ones I have met or worked with in the past. It's great how these expos and conferences can be like a reunion at times.

I also gave my presentation today, introducing the Mount Washington Observatory to people from all over the world. I talked about where the Observatory was located, summarized our meteorological annual averages and extremes, about our staff, interns, and volunteers and how our shifts work, past research and testing programs that we have been a part of, and details regarding our regional mesonet.

There is a lot of interest in our facility for testing of new instruments and technologies. After my presentation, I spoke with representatives from companies that make precipitation gauges, electronic snow depth measuring devices, and even an anemometer that they claim can withstand the worst weather in the world. We hope to put that to the test!

This conference was a great success for networking and spreading the word about who we are and what we do, and I feel very lucky to have participated in this event. Next, it's the Annual Meteorological Society conference in Atlanta in February, where we have 4 different oral and poster presentations occurring about the observatory! I'm so proud of all of our staff members who had their papers selected for presentation.

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

15:18 Thu Oct 17th

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'Bon soir' from Brussels, Belgium, where the world's largest international meteorological technology expo is currently taking place! This three day event that I am attending has brought together instrumentation manufacturers from all over the world, from the USA to the Netherlands to Korea.

Everywhere you look, you see thermometers, hygrometers, anemometers, pyranometers... there are even a few other '-ometers' out there that are brand new technology!

It's critical for Mount Washington Observatory to be here and stay on top of the new technologies for several reasons. For one, it's great to see what is cutting edge and what we can utilize on the summit or at any of our 19 mesonet stations. Also, it gives us a chance to invite these manufacturers and companies to see if their product can handle the world's worst weather.

Many of them will sell their instrumentation to be deployed in far away places, and if they test with us first on Mount Washington, and their products survive, they will know they can survive anywhere!

I will be giving a 30-minute presentation tomorrow at 11:30 am (5:30 am EDT) that will introduce the Mount Washington Observatory to an international audience. More details will come in my next observer comment, but I will be talking about our product testing and research capabilities. Until then, 'fijne avond'!

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

16:48 Wed Oct 16th

Today was shift change day for summit staff.

Our shift began the day in the valleys below, and our trip to the base of the mountain included low-hanging stratus clouds, patches of fog, and periods of drizzle. We pondered how dense the fog was atop the summit, thinking we would not be met with anything but the thick, soupy variety of fog.

However, as we ascended the Auto Road, we noticed the fog was actually beginning to thin out as we approached the 4000 foot mark on the road. As we emerged at the 5-mile section, the clouds completely cleared, and we were left with a stunning view of the undercast beneath us! The early morning sunshine reflected off the many layers of clouds below, and the few layers of high clouds above, creating a brilliant sight as we approached the summit.

This was yet another great example of how different weather in the mountains can be versus conditions in the valley.

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:13 Tue Oct 15th

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Practicing My Purrrrple Steel Pose

Meooow from the summit. I know it has been a while since I talked to you last, so I wanted to check in. Life on the summit is wonderful as usual and I am enjoying the tranquility of the building as the season changes. While I love the bustle of a summer's day, the fall allows me to purrrrsue some of my extra curricular activities like mousing, eating, and sleeping. Not to worry though, I still makes my rounds of the building while it is open. I wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to meet my fans. I have also been working on a new pose called Purrrrple Steel; however, I haven't purrrrfected it yet.

Marty – Summit Cat

10:38 Mon Oct 14th

On Monday, October 7th, 5 members of the Appalachian Mountain Club's Construction Crew arrived for a week of disassembly and demolition of the Mount Washington Observatory Summit Museum, ahead of the planned opening of Extreme Mount Washington in the spring of 2014.

From Monday to Thursday these hardy men and women have been working to take down the last vestiges of exhibit staging areas, casing, retail structures, and the triple flight staircase leading to them all. At the end of each day they share dinner with the Observatory Staff and sleep in the guest quarters inside the Observatory's living space. A week into deconstruction, and the museum bears little resemblance to its busy, people-packed former self. Images of the demolition process may be viewed on our Renovation Photos page.

As work begins we still have just over $40,000 left to raise on the project's $825,000 budget. Help us bring this important project to completion by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount on ExtremeMountWashington.org

Thanks again for your support!

Will Broussard – Outreach Coordinator

17:32 Sun Oct 13th

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My Protector In A Moat Of Clouds

Working on the summit and being one of the few females, I frequently find myself as 'one of the guys'. While I might act like one the guys from time to time, my mind still tends to have girlie daydreams. This morning was no exception as I walked out onto the observation deck for my first observation. Looking out to the horizon, the day was just beginning as light filtered over the horizon. Below me, a sea of clouds obstructed the valley's below my castle. From the top of the tower with longer hair, I could be Rapunzel stranded by a moat of condensed water vapor. This morning there was an added flare to this vision. With few mountain tops poking through the clouds, I was protected by an alligator. What more could a weather observing Princess ask for?

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:20 Sat Oct 12th

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A guest this afternoon looks over a sea of clouds.

Reading over our Facebook comments and emails, there seems to be some confusion concerning our operating status as well as others directly around us during the Federal Government Shutdown we (the United States) are currently experiencing. So, let me hopefully clear up some of that confusion by pulling together all the available resources I can find for the summit and surrounding mountain community - most of which remain open amid the Federal Government Shutdown.

Let's start with us - we are open and are not affected by this shutdown. The Mount Washington Observatory is a private, nonprofit, membership based organization. It generates funds through several methods: membership fees, educational program fees, museum admissions and Museum shops sales, scientific research projects, the National Weather Service contracts, daily radio shows and scientific or educational grants, all of which contribute to administrative and operating expenses. We also are grateful for corporate support from such organizations as Eastern Mountain Sports, Subaru of America, the Mt. Washington Auto Road, The Mount Washington Cog Railway, Vasque and other companies. Much of our support comes from individuals who join us as Observatory members. Except for compensation for services rendered, or as a component of special, specific projects, the Observatory receives no Federal or state support.

Next up, the Mount Washington Observatory leases space within the Sherman Adams building of New Hampshire State Park. The New Hampshire State Park system, like most state parks around the country, is not part of the government shutdown. The Mount Washington State Park, as of this weekend, remains open to the public. Some parks within their system are closed due to the season and not because of Federal funding. For a complete rundown of the operating schedules within the New Hampshire State Park system, you can check out their website here.

Next up, motorized transportation up to the summit. Regarding the Federal Government Shutdown, the Mount Washington Auto Road home page states, "As a completely private entity, we will remain open and unaffected by the shutdown." So, for their operating schedule, you can head here. Similarly, the Cog Railway's home page states, "The Cog Railway is OPEN - Not affected by shutdown - All scenic byways, dramatic vistas, and Mount Washington summit are OPEN!!" So, for their operating schedule, you can head here.

As far as trail, hut, AMC visitor centers, lodge, campgrounds, etc. information, the Appalachian Mountain Club put together a great blog article, similar to this one, outlining what is affected and what remains open during this shutdown period. It can be found here. Additionally, they have been updating a list of what remains open or closed amid the Federal Government Shutdown. It is available here. The only information that appears to be missing from that page is the status of the trails and facilities of the Randolph Mountain Club. While a statement about the Federal Government Shutdown wasn't readily available on their website, you can refer to their website for more information and for further contact information.

So, hopefully this and the available links above help clear up some confusion during this period of Federal Government Shutdown. If I happened to miss anything, my advice would be to check out the website for any given location, organization, etc. and don't assume something is closed. So hopefully some or all of this information will provide a bit of assistance so that you can still get out and enjoy the outdoors this holiday weekend and beyond.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

23:49 Fri Oct 11th

I have been working on the summit since December of 2005, and in that time I have seen my fair share of sunrises and sunsets. After viewing each one, I will typically make a mental note how it rates on a scale from 0 to 10; zero being a foggy sunrise/set and a 10 being something that leaves me and others speechless. With the summit in the fog over 60 percent of the year, I have witnessed several "zeroes." I have also witnessed plenty of "ones" - those days where the sky is perfectly clear or the clouds are on the opposite side of the sky making for little to no color apart from the sky going from black to blue or the other way around. A two or three would be those days where we might get a hint of color but it is a narrow spectrum, a small highlighted area, or it is all short lived. The mid-range (4 to 6) varies and can include an undercast with some color above, clear skies above and the undercast highlighted, intermittent fog with clouds above, etc. They are scenes that are average and something I have seen numerous times before. The upper ratings in my spectrum (7-9) are those rises and sets that have widespread color, a large spectrum, and that last a long time.

Lastly there are those perfect tens - those days the sky erupts in color from top to bottom in all directions for an hour before and an hour after. And adding to it all are those unique weather occurrences setting it all apart - a partial or total undercast, virga draping down in different colors then the clouds above them, a rainbow or double rainbow, a light pillar, a fading or start of an Aurora, blowing snow, rime ice glowing, or perfectly calm and quiet conditions. These are the kind of scenes that are just so unusual, so beautiful, and so phenomenal that I have to wake people up or drag them outside with me just to make sure I can share the moment and make the surreal seem just slightly more normal.

These are my ratings; however, I always remind guests and new employees that these ratings are purely MY ratings and they are on a sliding scale of sorts the longer I work here. When I was first starting out here, everything I saw was a perfect ten. The views, the colors, and the weather - it was all new, unique, and like nothing I had ever seen before. I would photograph everything thinking it was the bee's knees. At times, I look back at my picture catalog and wonder why I took over 100 pictures of a perfectly clear sky when now and days I typically only take about a dozen images. It's not that a clear sky day isn't beautiful to me anymore, it is just that I believe that with time I have realized that I don't necessarily need to photograph it all to remember it all; it's more quality over quantity. Therefore, it doesn't matter if a sunrise or sunset is a zero or a 10 to me or anyone around me. Now and days I look at the world around me and try to find those things that stand out and will help me remember the moment. So this Columbus Day weekend, hopefully you can get out and witness/experience some moments of your own.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:15 Thu Oct 10th

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Observation Deck

It was once again, another beautiful day on the summit with blue skies, plenty of sunshine and unmistakable views of the Appalachians. Seeing how the weather has been so cooperative within the last few days, families and friends have made the trip to the summit to take pictures and enjoy the sights. Unfortunately however, as we all know, weather is always changing. As the coastal low over the Atlantic continues to move northeast, clouds will return over the summits this evening, continuing into the night. In addition,the Geophysical Institute has forecasted for some weak auroras during the night. Thus, If conditions are just right, there is a slight chance of seeing them in the night sky along with some detailed constellations in the background.

Pratik Patel – Summit Intern

23:46 Wed Oct 9th

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Aurora from October Second.

If you are an avid follower or frequent checker of our Facebook page, you may have viewed a few of our Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights) images over the past year or so (on a side note, you do not need a Facebook username or password to view our content; you only need one if you intend to 'Like' or leave comments on any content). While we like to share these images, they always generate a ton of questions. So, I will answer five of our most common questions.

1. When are they coming? The Mount Washington Observatory is a weather station. We do not measure or forecast Aurora Borealis or any other space related activity. None of us are remotely certified or degreed to do so either. The only way we know activity is going to occur is by monitoring sites like NOAA POES Auroral Activity Map, solarham.com, or spaceweather.gov or several other sites available with a simple Google search. While websites help us keep an eye out for them, most of the time, we are caught off guard when they occur just as much as any other untrained person in the region.

2. Can you notify us when they are happening or going to occur? Unfortunately, since none of us know how to forecast these events, the best we can do is point you to the websites mentioned above. Additionally, if you have a smartphone, there are several 'apps' available that can assist you in receiving notifications. And if you happen to have a Facebook or Twitter account, there are several 'space weather' related sites that can keep you well informed. The best we can do is post information to our Facebook page as we observer them.

3. When is the best time to see them? They are best viewed when it is dark and the darker the better. So get away from city lights or any light source in general. While they can be seen with a full moon, the less moonlight there is the better. Winter tends to have better viewing opportunities however, they can be seen during any month of the year at our latitude. And they occur more often during years of solar maximum (which we are currently in apparently).

4. Where is the best place to view them? Mountain tops help as they give you a further viewing horizon. But, anywhere you have a long stretch to the north can work too. So a large field or really long north to south stretching lake can be great places to view them in our experiences. And the further north you are, the better your chances. And while it should go without saying, the Northern Lights in our hemisphere are typically only seen to the north (they would have to be really, really strong for us to see anything to the south of our location).

5. Are they as vivid as they look in pictures? Sometimes and to some individuals. Some people I have been out shooting with can see the full spectrum while others only see select colors. So don't be disappointed if they don't look exactly like they do in the pictures you have seen.

I hope some of these tips help you in possibly viewing them and we will continue to share them when we can view them.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

16:51 Tue Oct 8th

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New Precipitation Can Stand!

Every six hours here on the summit, an observer ventures outside to collect the precipitation can. Once inside, a specially incremented ruler is used to determine how much precipitation has fallen over those six hours. When frozen precipitation is in the can (i.e. snow or ice pellets) it is first measured, before being melted in order to determine its liquid water equivalent.

At the Observatory, we use a standard rain gauge to measure precipitation. An 8-inch diameter aluminum cylinder, which stands 24 inches tall, is placed inside a custom stand to keep it upright. During the winter, a taller gauge (about 33 inches) is used in order to handle our heavy snowfall events. The standard rain gauge is commonly found at most National Weather Service offices as well as other human-operated stations.

Other types of gauges include the tipping-bucket and weighing rain gauges. The weighing gauge can be found at most automated surface observing stations, usually located within the vicinity of an airport. A large cylinder rests on a scale, which measures the weight of the accumulated water. The device sends a signal to a computer, which can trace a chart to determine the intensity of the precipitation throughout the day. The gauge is extremely sensitive and would not fare well in the extreme weather conditions we see here at the summit!

The time came this summer for us to replace and make some modifications to our old precipitation can stand. We are very lucky here at the Observatory to have so many friends and volunteers to give us a hand with some of our unusual needs. J.R. Higgins Associates is one of these great volunteers. After coming up on a cold rainy day a few months ago, we were provided with some amazing high tech computer designs of our future stand. We were able to view 3D drawings, make modifications, and design a stand that would be perfect for the summit during all seasons. Last week, the final product was installed at the summit, and we couldn't be happier!

Samuel Hewitt – Summit Intern

16:10 Sun Oct 6th

It has been a week since we began deconstruction of the legendary Mount Washington Museum ahead of the planned opening of Extreme Mount Washington in the spring of 2014.

On Monday, September 30th, Director of Museum Operations Bill Grenfell and Director of Education Michelle Cruz began the careful process of boxing and cataloging the exhibits, including the original heated number 2 anemometer, the Northern Presidential panorama, and multiple historical dioramas. With utmost care, each were moved safely to a climate-controlled storage facility in North Conway. Exhibit Fabricator John Mitchell and Curator Peter Crane were on hand to help break down, catalog, and transport the items between summit and valley. By Friday, October 4th the former museum space was empty except for exhibit casing and carpeting, with retail fixtures also removed.

On Monday, October 7th, 5 members of the Appalachian Mountain Club's construction crew arrived for a week of continued disassembling of exhibit casing, stairway walls, and large debris removal. Stay tuned to our Project Updates blog as we continue the demolition and reconstruction process this fall, winter, and spring.

As work begins we still have just over $40,000 left to raise on the project's $825,000 budget. Help us bring this important project to completion by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount on Extreme.MountWashington.org

Once again, we thank you for your support!

Will Broussard – Outreach Coordinator

22:26 Sat Oct 5th

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Lenticulars Undulating in the Twilight

I had an interesting first night on the summit on Wednesday. With winds gusting in excess of hurricane force and the summit remaining in the clear, each observation was a struggle against the wind. When we're in the clear, observations involve walking the length of the deck to check conditions to our east. It was easy to get out of control walking across the deck with the wind, and it took all my strength to walk into the wind to get back to the tower.

Two nights after, I was wandering around the deck, pondering how it is possible to have nearly calm winds on the summit of a mountain. It's quite incredible how mountain weather can change so dramatically, going from completely calm to winds that can easily overpower you. Whether you're going out for a day hike or doing an extended backpack expedition in the Whites, checking the weather before you leave and constantly re-evaluating your surroundings can reduce the risk of weather catching you by surprise.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

17:14 Fri Oct 4th

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Observer Fitzgerald demonstrates good bowling form

Another work day on top of the Rockpile is just about complete, which has this Observer considering what is on the docket for tonight's summit activities. We often get asked the question, 'what do you all do for fun up here?' to which there are several answers depending on who you ask.

For those of you who do not already know, as Observers at the Mount Washington Observatory we work around the clock, 24-hours a day, with each Observer working a 12-hour shift. For the day Observers, we generally work 5:30AM until 5:30PM, while the night Observers take the other 12 hours. Speaking from a day Observer's prospective, when 5:30PM rolls around we are generally ready for some relaxation and fun, but this obviously means different things to different people. With weather usually being the limiting factor, usually we don't get to pick which days we get to recreate outdoors. For me, this means I absolutely try to take advantage of some of the nicer days by hiking down to Lakes of the Clouds, doing a half-loop of the summit cone on the West Side Trail, or enjoying the views on Nelson Crag or at the headwall of the Great Gulf Wilderness.

When darkness or foul-weather engulfs the summit, Observers are likely to be found reading on the couch, playing music, arguing while watching hockey (about the Bruins, Devils or Rangers most likely), enjoying Monday Night Football, or what has been the activity of choice lately: Nintendo Wii Bowling. Observers and Interns alike have been locked in heated Wii Bowling competition for a couple months now, often averaging numerous games each night (unless Jeopardy is on).

While it may seem a little silly just how intensely we play Wii Bowling, it may go without saying how important extra-curricular activities are up here at our weather station. While eight days at a time can be a long period away from friends and family, our hearts definitely go out to the researchers who live in even more remote locations (i.e. Antarctica) who are likely much better at Wii Bowling or whatever their game of choice is.

If you'd like to become a member, or already are a member of the Observatory, and are interested in volunteering a week of your time to see more of what it's like to live and work up on Mount Washington, visit our Volunteering Link!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

15:07 Thu Oct 3rd

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Soothing Music!

A few years ago, I composed an observer comment that discussed music and how it relates to my job up here.

During this early morning, as I was performing one of my daily quality checking routines, a classical piece of music popped up on my iPad playlist. The piece was from the New World Symphony No. 9 'Finale', composed by Antonin Dvorak; a personal favorite of mine. It is not often that I turn to classical music, but since it is known to have a calming influence, I decided to give the tune a shot as a tone-setter to what promises to be a busy shift week.

Marty just so happened to be in the weather room at the time as well, taking a load off on the weather desk. With the many fluctuations in the music, through the crescendos and decrescendos, I began to notice that our furry friend had become mesmerized by the waxing and waning sounds. In fact, he seemed to have slipped into a peaceful 'trance' of sorts, and I immediately snapped the above image.

Now that's a calm kitty!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

14:51 Wed Oct 2nd

Sunday, September 29, 2013 marked the Mount Washington Museum's final day of operation.

Since 1973, the summit museum has served as the primary public face of Mount Washington Observatory atop the 6,288 foot peak. Featuring hand-made exhibits about the mountain's fascinating human and natural history, it has welcomed as many as 100,000 visitors each summer. We recently learned that these figures make it the most visited museum in the entire state of New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, after so many years of service, the museum's dusty artifacts and aging exhibits make it a grossly outdated experience. The decision was made to invest in this important cultural cornerstone, and the Observatory began laying the groundwork for an entirely reimagined mountaintop educational offering.

In the spring of 2014, Mount Washington Observatory will cut the ribbon on Extreme Mount Washington: an all-new, interactive educational experience that will provide visitors an appreciation for the mountain's world-famous tagline, "Home of the World's Worst Weather."

In the meantime, much work remains to deconstruct the historic Mount Washington Museum, and prepare the space for its new life.

As the final visitor exited the exhibit floor on Sunday, a procession of Observatory staff and trustees filed in. They had come to mark the end of an era; to commemorate the Mount Washington Museum's storied, 40-year history.

Executive Director Scot Henley and Curator Dr. Peter Crane recounted stories about the museum's founding in the Yankee Building, and the move to its current location inside the Mt. Washington State Park Visitor Center.

Dr. Crane led a guided tour of the exhibits, humoring and educating participants with interesting details omitted from the interpretive plaques. For many employees, this would be the last time they stepped foot inside the historic space. It was both and exciting and bittersweet occasion as we talked over the plans for each artifact, and the future of the museum as a whole.

In the coming months, successive blog posts will outline the progression of the summit museum's total transformation. Stay tuned for updates and pictures as we deconstruct the current exhibits, begin demolition, perform site preparation, and finally install the new exhibits next spring. It will be a fascinating series of complex tasks performed under the very tight constraints of weather and transportation logistics.

As work begins we still have just over $40,000 left to raise on the project's $825,000 budget. Help us bring this important project to completion by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount on Extreme.MountWashington.org

Thank you for your support!

Will Broussard – Outreach Coordinator

19:10 Tue Oct 1st

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Mount Washington Summit At Night

I have been living on the summit for three years and this past week has been one of the most tranquil. Day after day the weather remained calm and clear with incredibly crisp views. On one night, I was lucky enough to have a friend spend the night on the summit and visit with us. The bonus to this is my friend is an incredible photographer and captured the beauty of the summit in ways I could never explain. Looking at the images captured through his lens renewed a spark of enthusiasm for this mountain I call home. With hundreds of thousands of visitors, it is so few that actually get to see the crisp clear nights that make Mount Washington so awe inspiring. Besides our overnight EduTrips, it is nearly impossible to spend the night on the summit this time of year once the nearby Appalachian Mountain Club's higher huts close. Being able to share images of the night sky that capture the beauty of my home is special. A special thank you goes to my friend Chris for capturing all these awesome images.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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