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Observer Comments

April 2014

19:29 Wed Apr 30th

With the month of April now behind us, I decided to look back and see how this month compares to our average April. As of the time of this writing, the summit received 6.96 inches of liquid, and 25.7 inches of snow. A bit more rain is on the way through midnight as a large storm system over the center of the country continues to pull Gulf of Mexico moisture all the way up into New England. Our average liquid equivalent precipitation is 7.44 inches, and average snowfall is 35.6 inches. This month will likely end up well below average for snowfall, and near average for total liquid equivalent, making April very different than the very cold and snowy winter months much of New England saw this past winter. The summit also saw much of the extensive snow cover that built up over this winter melt greatly in the first 2 weeks of April, with roughly 27 inches of snow depth recorded on the first of the month falling to only about 1 inch on the 22nd and 23rd.

April is one of the windiest months on average for the summit, with a monthly wind speed of 34.7 mph, and our former world-record wind speed occurring on April 12th, 1934. This year April was slightly more windy than average, with a monthly average of 38.5 mph and a peak wind for the month of 106 mph occurring on the 24th from the north, an unusual direction for the summit. Fog was seen on 24 days of the month, or about 80% of the total month, and the summit only saw about 45% of the possible amount of possible sunshine for April. On the bright side, the days are getting longer as we move into May, and warmer weather and summer is just around the corner!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

07:06 Tue Apr 29th

This is it: Our fiscal year ends at midnight tomorrow, and we are still $18,642 from our goal. Please, make a tax-deductible donation of any amount right now - this is your last chance to help!

There is so much riding on this year's budget:

  • The new website , which will deliver our weather, webcams, photos and news in a much more modern, user-friendly interface.

  • Critical IT upgrades , which will allow us to complete the new website and provide a more reliable flow of data to your screen.

  • The operation of our summit weather station , including the continuation of our 82-year climate record, daily weather reports, forecasting and more.

  • Our regional mesonet, a system of remote instrument sites, which provide crucial data for research and our higher summits forecasts.

  • The busy summer season at our Weather Discovery Center , which shares the science of climate and weather with all visitors without the barrier of an admission fee.

  • Our summer lecture series , Science in the Mountains, which brings interesting research and pertinent issues to the public eye.
Everything that we do and all the resources that we offer are made possible by the support of Observatory members and donors - you, and others like you.

Please, take this opportunity to show your support for citizen-funded science and education by making a donation today. It's an investment in the future of Mount Washington Observatory.

Thank you for your support!

Scot Henley – Executive Director

17:48 Mon Apr 28th

With an extensive collection of forecasting tools available online, forecasts today are vastly more accurate than they were even ten years ago. With the development of accurate models and weather stations scattered across the world, actually going outside to see what is happening seems to have become much less necessary in forecasting. It is still amazing how much you can learn by just looking outside.

Just by looking out your window and up at the sky, you can determine what time of year it is. In the summertime, clouds have a much more convective 'puffy' look that is caused from rising air as the sun heats up the ground. In the wintertime, clouds are often more stratiform and spread out as opposed to puffy and tall.

Noctilucent clouds are relatively uncommon clouds that occur extremely high in our atmosphere. They are only seen in the minutes after sunset, as they are extremely thin and are not visible through the roughly 45-55 miles of atmosphere below them. Recent research suggests that these clouds may be an indicator of weather and temperature thousands of miles away from their location.

More ordinary, but just-as-informative, lenticular and cirrostratus clouds can indicate short-term weather trends. Increasing lenticular clouds, which are lens-shaped stationary clouds and often form over mountains, can indicate possible precipitation in the near future. Cirrostratus clouds often spread out beyond an area of low pressure, and careful observation of these clouds can tell you whether a low pressure disturbance may move through the region. In addition, these clouds are often a precursor to a severe thunderstorm, pushing out over and ahead of the anvil of a thunderstorm.

In the summertime, thunderstorms are the largest threat to the summit. It is a bit harder to predict thunderstorms through observation, as they occur in a small area and often form and dissipate in a span of less than one day. However, keeping an eye on the vertical growth of clouds is extremely helpful in determining whether or not a cumulus cloud has the potential to grow into a thunderstorm. If a cloud is showing extensive vertical development, it is more likely to build into a thunderstorm.

Although forecasting through observation should never be used as a replacement for looking at a forecast, it is a useful aid when there is no forecast available. It is incredible how much you can learn about the weather by just looking up at the sky.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

19:24 Sun Apr 27th

Winds have remained relatively low over the past 24 hours allowing all the newly fallen snow to accumulate on the summit rather than rushing off to the ravines below. The flakes that have been falling have generally been of the large variety, looking like something straight out of the movies. It makes for a beautiful scene that makes me long for Christmas. However, the visions of sugarplums dancing in my head are quickly shaken off once I remember that I have already seen months upon months of this type of winter weather; so I am kind of looking forward to milder weather in the months ahead.

Looking ahead this week, it looks like the wintry pattern will at least be turning a bit more "spring-like" as a broad area of low pressure approaches from the Midwest. If you have been following the national news the past few days, this is the same low that is currently causing the severe weather outbreak in Midwest and Southeast US. As this low approaches New England, it will translate into a very wet and possibly unsettled pattern for the latter half of the week ahead. While the weather pattern won't be as severe by the time it reaches here, it will still have enough energy to possibly bring long periods of heavy rain and maybe some of the first rumbles of thunder on the summit this year. You can keep an eye on the weather ahead by checking our Higher Summits Forecast page in the days ahead.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:43 Sat Apr 26th

Today we enjoyed a very special treat from the folks attending the New England Square and Round Dance Convention, some of which included locals from the Mount Washington Valley Stompers! Arriving at the summit via the Cog Railway, these talented square dancers congregated in the rotunda of the New Hampshire State Park Sherman Adams building to show off their moves. It was a great show - take a look!

If you're interested in taking the Cog Railway up to the summit, you can check their schedule HERE. The operating schedule of the New Hampshire State Park can be found HERE. Also, don't forget to stay updated on the progress being made on the Mount Washington Auto Road!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:27 Fri Apr 25th

The Sherman Adams building atop the summit is bustling with activity!

With the opening of the new Extreme Mount Washington Museum just around the corner, we continue to prepare for a busy summer. The Mount Washington Auto Road crew continues to work on clearing the road to the summit (you can check their website for information on their progress and scheduled opening date). New Hampshire State Park has released their operating schedule online, so be sure to head here to learn when their facilities will be open. Lastly, the Cog Railway's first trips of the season are scheduled for this weekend with the rest of their 2014 operating schedule located on their website.

Winter brings incredibly high winds, cold temperatures, and intricate rime ice formations. These extremes are an experience that meteorologists and weather enthusiasts dream about. While I love the impressive winter weather, I must say I'm equally fond of the summer season too. I particularly enjoy sharing the Observatory's mission with hikers, guests, and visitors alike. When our visitors come through the weather room for a tour or climb up to the top of the tower for a priceless view, their excitement is unrestrained. If you haven't planned your family summer vacation yet, consider visiting the Observatory this year. You won't regret it!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

21:05 Thu Apr 24th

While most locations in New England experience four seasons, the summit seems to only have three (in my opinion) and all of them deal with colors - the white season, the green season, and the brown season. The white season is that of 'winter' where snow/ice/rime coat everything, the green season is that of late spring/early summer when the sedge finally greens up and alpine flowers bloom, and brown season is that of late summer and early fall as everything becomes dormant again. While we have 'three' seasons, unlike most locations, there really isn't a set date that any of these seasons start or end. If you look at our 80+ years of data, the summit has seen an inch or more of snow for every month of the year. Temperature-wise, record highs have been above freezing every month of the year and record lows have all been below freezing every month of the year. Moreover, 100 mph gusts have and typically do occur every month of the year. So, while some people were shocked to see a picture of rime ice and nearly 6 inches of snow this morning along with temperatures in the teens with winds as high as 106 mph, to someone like myself who has been here over eight years, it was just another April day.

To show you what I mean, let me provide you with some April stats. For April, the normal monthly average temperature is 23.9F (-4C) with average daily temperatures varying from 18F (-8C) on the first of the month and increasing to 30F (-1C) by the 30th. In fact, the record low for today is 0F (-18C) , so today's temperatures in the teens are far from record setting. Snowfall-wise, the normal monthly average is 35.6 inches however, our record maximum monthly total has been as high as 110.9 inches for the month measured back in 1988. And before you say it is unusual to see 'this much snow' (our 6 inches in the past 24 hours) this late in the month, one only has to go back to April 2010 to see that 21.5 inches fell on the summit on April 27/28 of that year - a higher total than today's and later in the month. Looking at the long range forecasts, it is likely we will see several more inches falling in the coming days. And as far as the 100+ mph winds, one only has to go back to April 23, 2009 to see that the summit received a gust of 118 mph which makes our peak gust of 106 mph (so far) not that far out of the realm of possibilities.

The main reason I am pointing all this out though is to show casual observers and hikers that this winteresque weather is closer to normal than abnormal for the summit this time of year. Yes, April can see mild days with low winds, moderate temperatures, and sunny skies but as we transition from the white season to the green season so to say, the summit can and will continue to see high winds, freezing temperatures, and fog mixing with snow. Therefore, if you are planning to hike/ski/snowboard this time of year, you should continue to check the current summit conditions, the higher summits forecast, and the Mount Washington Avalanche Centers avalanche advisories so you are well prepared and safe on any given day in the backcountry. Spring-like conditions in the morning can quickly turn to winter-like conditions in the afternoon. So, while the mountain continues to transition from one season to another, keep in mind that a bad weather day will likely transition to a 'good' weather day in a day or two, so just postpone your trip so that you can enjoy the mountain environment just a bit more.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

06:30 Wed Apr 23rd

As always I've enjoyed my time at the summit. Getting up there was interesting, in that we couldn't go up on Wednesday as usual. The road was not safe, therefore we waited until Thursday. I've never encountered that situation before, however am pleased with the caution they take. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I was blessed this week with unbelievable views in all directions. There really was only one day that I couldn't get out. Sunrises and sunsets were spectacular. I was especially grateful for an Easter Sunrise.

I got out for a hike on Easter and witnessed many, many others out enjoying the day, either hiking or skiing at Tuckerman's Ravine. For the price of fixing meals and helping with the cleaning, it's well worth the time spent.

A big endeavor happening on the part of the observatory is the new museum and gift shop they are in the process of getting ready to open. It is sure to be exciting for guests of the summit to visit. I can't wait to see what the exhibits will entail. I'm told it is sure to get the adrenaline going as it gives a representation of what the extreme weather patterns up here are like.

As I see spring beginning to show signs of arriving around the summit, we soon forget the harshness of the winter we just had. I look forward to my next trip to the summit.

Katherine MacDonald – Summit Volunteer

17:48 Mon Apr 21st

As you know, Mount Washington Observatory is a nonprofit institution, and we occasionally reach out to ask for your support.

At the end of March we launched our fiscal year-end annual fund campaign to raise the remaining funds we need to end our year without a deficit. Our target is $50,000, and our deadline is April 30.

With 9 days left in our fiscal year, we are still $29,873 from our goal. Please help us close this gap by making a tax-deductible contribution today.

Your gift will support:
- Our weather operations on Mount Washington, including our mountaintop station and remote reporting sites throughout the White Mountains
- Our educational outreach programs, which help inspire the next generation of scientists through exciting, place-based learning
- Our Weather Discovery Center museum in downtown North Conway and forthcoming Extreme Mount Washington educational experience on the summit of Mount Washington, which share the science of weather and climate with more than 150,000 visitors each year
- Vital upgrades to our technological infrastructure, from our instruments to our servers
- A long overdue redesign of our website, to ensure a more accurate and timely delivery of weather data, forecasts, webcam images and more

We have been talking a lot about the redesign project, because this website is the most public, far-reaching face of Mount Washington Observatory. More than 1.1 million unique visitors per year turn to MountWashington.org for weather information. As a reader of this blog, you obviously understand and appreciate these resources.

Please, make a tax-deductible donation of any amount and help us continue our work in weather observation, research and education right here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Thank you!

Cara Rudio – Director of Advancement

15:41 Sun Apr 20th

It's true, today is Easter Sunday. But up here at the Observatory's mountaintop facility, the summit staff mans a 24-hour, 365-day weather station. Whatever the calendar date may be, or whoever we may have left behind in the valleys below, the dedicated summit staff is up here atop the mountain, working just as diligently as any other day!

Since 1932, observers at the Mount Washington Observatory have taken hourly weather observations, which has gradually contributed to our now-82 year climate record. In order to ensure this data is accurate, precise, and complete, weather observers man the station round-the-clock, to keep a close eye on the ever-changing conditions at the summit, and take the necessary steps to remedy any problems that may arise.

Today was a great example of this, as our summit intern Sam Hewitt and myself took a morning hike down to one of our remote weather sites, stationed 1000 feet down the Mount Washington Auto Road at an elevation of 5300 feet ASL. The site has been giving us some minor problems, so Sam and I walked down to check things out, and make sure no physical problems were preventing quality data flow. On many occasions, a task like this needs to be performed amidst the reliably-unforgiving environmental conditions of the White Mountain Alpine Zone. However, we were quite lucky today, as (relatively) warm temperatures, light winds, and plentiful sunshine provided us with a pleasant trip down and back up to the 5300-foot site.

So although we may be wishing to be with our family and friends today--and we certainly do miss them--today we'll spend the holiday with our dedicated and passionate summit family, who we work side-by-side with every day, and who are all here for the same reason: perpetuating the long-lasting legacy of those legendary souls who have come before us.

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

16:29 Sat Apr 19th

The summit of Mount Washington is well known for its weather extremes, especially its winds. The winds the observers experience on a daily basis can sometimes be hard to imagine, unless of course you have had the opportunity to experience them yourself. The average wind speed at any given point during the year is 35 mph, the highest average wind speed of any recording station in the continental United States. During the winter months, the summit sees 100 mph winds on one out of every five days and hurricane force winds (74+mph) every other day. Statistically, the summit experiences its highest average wind speeds during the month of January, however 130+ mph winds have occurred during every month of the year.

While writing this, I am reminded that the former world record gust of 231 mph happened during this month nearly 80 years ago. Personally, 120 mph winds are my limit when it comes to walking around on the Observatory's observation deck or de-icing the pitot tube anemometer. I can't even imagine what it would be like to do those same things in 230 mph winds. I mean think about it, in order for a tornado to be given an EF-5 rating (the highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale), it must have winds at some point during its lifespan that exceed 200 mph. And we have all seen what an EF-5 tornado can do to a building (Greensburg, KS 2007, Joplin, MO 2011, Moore, OK 2013). But, I guess that's why the summit is the home to some of the world's worst weather!

I am often asked what the lowest recorded wind speed is on the summit and many are surprised when I answer '0 mph'. Several times per year actually, mainly during the summer months while under the influence of a very strong area of high pressure, the winds on the summit will become light and variable at times. I have been interning for the Observatory since September of last year and have only seen calm winds once or twice. One of those occurrences was this past Thursday. It was very strange, to say the least, to be outside on the observation deck during those few minutes. As an avid lover of extreme weather, I would much rather be on the deck in 100 mph winds!

Samuel Hewitt – Summit Intern

16:04 Fri Apr 18th

After a long winter season, this year spring has be warmly welcomed by everyone here on the summit of Mount Washington. The start of this week temperatures on the summit reached as highs 50 degrees, which led to new daily record high for April 14th. These warm temperatures also contributed to a major melt out of the summits snow pack. From 7AM on April 13th to 7AM on April 16th the summits snow pack went from an average depth of 18 inches down to just 2 inches. The largest melting of snow was seen on the 14th thru 15th when 8 inches of snow melted.

Now that nearly all the snow is gone The Cog Railway, Mount Mount Washington Auto Road, Mount Washington State Park, and us here at the Mount Washington Observatory have all began our spring cleanup. Both the Cog and the Auto Road have been cleaning and inspecting their respective routes to up the summit, while the State Park and us here at the Observatory have undertaken our own spring cleaning for our respective areas of the Sherman Adams Build. Soon all of the entities up here on the summit will be running and open to the thousands of visitors that come to the summit of Mount Washington every summer. This summer is going to be especially special for us here at the observatory, since we will be opening our brand new Extreme Mount Washington Museum. Just over a month till you will get your chance to come see the new Extreme Mount Washington Museum!

Michael Kyle – Weather Observer

19:11 Thu Apr 17th

After arriving back on the summit after a delayed shift change day, I'm amazed to see how much of the snow pack has melted after another week of stronger April sun and some very warm weather. Driving up the road this morning, evidence of a major melt out was widespread as many areas that were snow covered in lower sections are now mostly bare. Along upper sections of the road, areas of the dirt section had plenty of runoff, with a few crevasses where water running off the mountain cut into the ground. Plenty of ice still covers the top 2 or so miles near the summit, where temperatures fell quickly below freezing and flash froze the runoff to several feet thick in spots.

Although temperatures should remain below freezing for the next few days, by Monday temperatures are expected to climb to near 40 degrees, with another round of melting occurring into Tuesday. With more and more of the road now becoming snow-free, the auto road will continue their annual spring routine of preparing the road for the summer season, with the cog railway also making preparations to be open as early as April 26th. Warmer weather and longer days are just around the corner, and up here on the summit we are eagerly awaiting summer's arrival!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer

19:14 Wed Apr 16th

It sure has been a busy week up here on the summit! There were a lot of 'firsts' that I've been able to check off the list as a full-time summit employee.

This week, I coded the longest observation I've done so far. One afternoon, we had six different cloud layers, which is the maximum number of layers you can include in a METAR report. Additionally, there were several remarks that had to be included, specifically variable cloud cover, distant haze, and both altocumulus and stratocumulus lenticular clouds. For an observer in training, it certainly was a challenge!

On Monday, I conducted my first Distance Learning program. I spoke to a group of 5th graders and gave them a virtual tour of the weather room, as well as explained the lifestyle of an observer and the work we do every day. It was a success and I enjoyed it very much!

Later that evening, I had my first experience taking preventative measures to ensure minimal flooding in the Observatory tower. Because I am not familiar with the winter routines on the summit, Ryan offered to show me what should be done around the tower prior to receiving warm temperatures. After dinner, we dug out our living room window to ensure the melting snow and ice did not seep inside. It's one thing to shovel snow in your driveway on a calm morning, but it's a very different experience shoveling snow in gusty 70mph winds!

This week, I also experienced my first shift change delay. Due to the heavy rain and above-freezing temperatures we received last night compounded with the snow and high winds this morning, our shift change will be taking place tomorrow morning instead of today. As a result, I had the opportunity to perform my first 'Live from the Rockpile' program this afternoon, giving visitors at the Weather Discovery Center a chance to virtually connect with the summit weather room. I was thrilled!

It's safe to say it was a productive week. I look forward to the many new things I will learn on each shift that lies ahead!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

18:27 Tue Apr 15th

Barbara Althen and I are finishing up our fourth summit volunteer shift. This one was the most spectacular we've experienced so far. The numbers say it all:

1 - the number of nights with Northern Lights

2 - the number of sunrises with 100 plus mile visibility and a pink alpenglow

3 - the number of hikes taken: Mt. Clay; Lion Head; Nelson Crag

4 - the number of sunrises and sunsets combined

5 - the number of sunny, clear days or half-days during our stay

6 - the number of buckets of melt water taken out of the tower during the day when we reach 50F (10C)

7 - the number of nights the evening meal was served right on time (plus one more tonight)

8 - the number of decades since the Big Wind. We even made a cake to celebrate the April 12 anniversary.

9 - how we rated one of the sunsets, that lit up every mountain ridge a beautiful red from here to VT and even NY state.

10 - how we rated our week at the summit

Oh, better add one more...

11 - getting to stay up here another day because poor road conditions means shift change has been postponed until Thursday.

Bill Ofsiany & Barbara Althe – Summit Volunteers

16:01 Mon Apr 14th

As my final week wraps up, I want to thank everyone at the Observatory for giving an absolutely incredible and unforgettable 1.5 years on the summit. I have seen and learned an incredible amount and am very thankful for all of the wonderful people both up here on the summit and down in the valley that keep the Observatory's gears turning.

If you want to stay overnight on the summit, the observatory has several options for you. Our winter and summer overnight trips allow attendees to spend a night on the summit, learning about topics ranging from photography to meteorology. Our volunteer program allows members of the observatory to stay on the summit for a week, while helping cook and clean. Finally, our intern program allows qualified applicants to spend a season with one of the shifts, helping out with projects and learning what observers do on a daily basis.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

16:33 Sun Apr 13th

The mainstream media and social media feeds are all abuzz about an upcoming 'Blood Moon' on Tuesday Morning (or Monday night for those of you who think 'morning' starts at sunrise). While a blood moon is being tossed around as an attention getter, in reality, the correct scientific terminology is simply a 'lunar eclipse.' A lunar eclipse is when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth.

From a meteorological standpoint, studying the color of the moon during an eclipse is an interesting study in how much volcanic dust and other particulate matter is present in the Earth atmosphere at that particular time. But this is about all I know since this is not my or any of my coworkers specialty; most people that have knowledge in knowing what to look for have a Masters of PhD in Atmospheric Science, Climatology or other related fields. So, much like you, we will just be hopefully looking up and watching this eclipse in awe. But you may have noticed that I said 'hopefully' in that last sentence. I said this because the odds of us seeing it from the summit of Mount Washington, NH are slim to none - with low odds expected across most of New England. Why? Well, the weather of course (something I do know about)!

Today, the region will be left in the wake of a warm front with ample amounts of warm moist air pumping northward for Monday. As this is occurring, a strong cold front will be approaching from the west late Monday into Tuesday. This means clouds, clouds, and more clouds making a lunar eclipse viewing very unlikely. However, I know my science isn't exact and there is always a sliver of hope, but if I were a betting man, I'd put all my money on 'No.' The good news though is this is the first of a Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses that will be visible from all of or parts of North America. So, if at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again...in six month intervals.

A video explaining the Tetrad of Lunar Eclipses can be seen HERE.

If you prefer reading about the Tetrad, you can head HERE.

A PDF about the study of Volcanic Emissions affecting the color can be read HERE.

If the Northeast happens to be clear, you can learn everything you need to know to view it HERE.

Lastly, if New England is clouded over, you can watch it live HERE.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:39 Sat Apr 12th

Today is a big day for the Observatory! Exactly 80 years ago today, the 231mph record wind was observed and recorded by Sal Pagliuca, Alex McKenzie, and Wendell Stephenson. Also joining the crew were 2 guests, Arthur Griffin and George Leslie. The fourth observer, Robert Stone, had to be transported down the mountain due to a skiing injury a few days before the record wind was observed.

Reflecting on some of the journal entries from these brave observers, perhaps my favorite line comes from Sal when he recalls the first few moments after realizing how large of a wind velocity was actually recorded:

'Will they believe it?' was our first thought. I felt then the full responsibility of that startling measurement. Was my timing correct? Was the method OK? Was the calibration curve right? Was the stopwatch accurate?
- Log Book entry, Sal Pagliuca

As weather observers atop Mount Washington, our primary mission is to accurately record and disseminate meteorological measurements to the best of our ability every hour, every day, every year. This mission has remained unchanged since the inception of the Observatory in 1932. To the crew's amazement, their long days of hard work and meticulousness soon paid off when a record setting observation was made just two years later on April 12, 1934.

Understandably, this explains Sal's feelings of doubt and uncertainty, as a wind velocity this large was unprecedented, however after a series of anemometer tests and calibrations, the record 231mph wind was confirmed to be accurate by the National Weather Bureau. In fact, this record still holds as the fastest windspeed ever recorded and observed at a staffed, non-automated station. While it's true that larger wind speeds certainly exist in extreme capacities, for instance 300+mph Doppler radar estimated winds within tornadoes, the 231mph measurement is still the largest non-estimated and non-automated wind record to date, which is an important distinction to make.

Fast forward to now, and you will see that although many changes have occurred over the past 80 years, the Weather Observers working atop the summit still seek to uphold this same mission of recording and disseminating accurate data with the hopes of advancing our understanding of Earth's atmosphere.

Happy Big Wind Day!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:23 Fri Apr 11th

I'm enjoying my last week here on the summit as my temporary position with the Mount Washington Observatory comes to an end. I've seen and learned so much since I started working with the Observatory in fall of 2012. I have walked (crawled) through 120+ mph winds, taken observations in -35 degree temperatures (with a -90 degree wind chill!), collected the precip can in fog so thick I can barely see my feet, and spent months learning about the human psyche while working nights. I couldn't have asked for a more unforgettable time here on the summit while working alongside a wonderful group of people.

The days ahead promise to bring a variety of conditions, with the summit sending me off with spring-like temperatures on Monday, only to dip back down well below freezing on Tuesday. As they say on the summit, 'if you don't like the weather, wait a minute and it will be different.'

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

17:04 Wed Apr 9th

My favorite thing about my job is that no two days are the same. Just a few months shy of my two year anniversary with the Observatory, I'm happy to say that this still very much applies today. So, just what have I done this past week?

It started last Wednesday at shift change, which was Rebecca's last day on the summit, so naturally we threw her a little dinosaur themed surprise party. Thursday began with a monthly search and rescue working group meeting at Pinkham Notch, immediately followed by interviews for a new Transportation Coordinator at Great Glen. This is a very unique joint position with the Mt. Washington Auto Road, and we were able to talk with a lot of good candidates. We are hoping to make a selection in the coming weeks.

On Friday, I was the keynote speaker at White Mountain Community College at their Women in Science and Technology (WIST) forum. It was great to talk to a room full of high school aged girls about the path I took to obtain a career in science, and stress to them the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers.

I then did the almost three hour drive to Portland, Maine, for the Mount Washington Observatory fundraiser with Ginger Zee from Good Morning America. It was great to see her again after her visit here a year ago when she hiked to the summit. She is a weather nerd like all of us up here at the Observatory, and proud of it, and I hope she visits us again soon.

Monday was quiet and a great day to get caught up on administrative tasks in the office. On Tuesday, I came to the summit with photographers Jonathan and Nicole, who are taking photos for an upcoming edition of the alumni magazine for my alma mater, Metropolitan State University of Denver. Unfortunately, Mount Washington wasn't her usual winter self as we were getting spring-like conditions on the summit with rain and temperatures above freezing.

'Winter' is back however, and Wednesday brought temperatures in the teens with lots of rime ice, just in time for shift change! Wednesday wrapped up with a training meeting for the new website, which we need your help to complete! From server to website, we are making major changes to put us in the 21st century and would love your Support!

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

06:17 Wed Apr 9th

Completing my fourth Volunteer Week here on the Rockpile, I'm still amazed at all the new experiences there are to be had. On the second day of our shift, we had the pleasure of hosting an overnight trip for a group of climbers from faraway Denmark (Maine, that is). The group climbed up and down the mountain with warm beds and a great meal in between. The sunrises were spectacular, as were the sunsets. Weather changes constantly, as you would expect in New England, Winter to Spring and back to Winter. This is all possible because I became a Mount Washington Observatory member, and so can you. Check out the MWOBS website to find out how, and you'll be glad you did! I am!

John Donovan – Summit Volunteer

20:22 Mon Apr 7th

Only 2 days ago I wrote a comment about the ice storm we saw and how ice storms are a relatively uncommon event on the summit. Mother nature must have heard me and felt spiteful, because another storm is about to begin this evening, with snow, sleet, freezing rain, and even plain rain all possible by tomorrow. This storm will have more precipitation than its predecessor, along with a bit warmer air. The summit will likely see plenty of glaze ice from freezing rain, making for a challenging night of de-icing. Precipitation should taper to showers tomorrow morning, with temperatures returning to near average for the summit in the lower 20s.

Tom Padham – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

16:22 Sun Apr 6th

It's good to be back!

After an unexpected absence for the first half of this shift, I re-joined my shift-mates this morning. No, it was not an impromptu vacation that kept me away, but a nasty illness. Sickness is something to very strictly and seriously guard against on the summit. For one, the altitude does have a noticeable effect on the body, often dragging out recovery time from illnesses. In addition, due to the close quarters in which we live, germs spread like wildfire, and I had no desire to spread the 'wealth' to anyone up here. For those reasons, I stayed away until I was certain I could return and be of some use!

In my absence, my co-workers Tom, Kyle, and Sam were forced to pick up the slack and cover all of the necessary tasks that I would otherwise help out with. Hats off and major kudos to the three of them, who handled the situation wonderfully, allowing me to rest up and return back to action on the summit quicker!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:45 Sat Apr 5th

Freezing rain events on the summit are relatively uncommon, since in order for freezing rain to occur temperatures at the summit need to be below freezing while above the summit has a deep layer of above freezing temperatures. Most often this layer of above freezing air is shallow and the summit may see sleet or wet snow. Last night into this morning was an unusual freezing rain event due to the long duration of the freezing rain seen on the summit, and how cold the temperatures were with the freezing rain.

For much of the night temperatures sat in the mid to upper teens, which is pretty cold for freezing rain to form (remember freezing rain forms as a liquid in above freezing temperatures aloft). Considering that it was only in the teens at 6,000 feet , the above freezing layer in which the rain was forming was probably several thousand feet above summit. Usually this would lend to sleet (ice pellets) for the summit, since the liquid rain would freeze on its way through air well below freezing . Because most of our precipitation fell in the form of freezing rain, the temperatures at say 8,000 or 9,000 feet may have been well above freezing, perhaps 40 degrees or so, a very balmy day for that high up!

Working in an ice storm on the summit is not as glamorous as it sounds (that is, if you think it sounds glamorous). Glaze ice forms very quickly if the winds are high and freezing rain is occurring. Glaze ice, or clear ice, is also much harder to knock off our instruments and tower, and doing so on an hourly basis does grow tiring. In addition sleet with a 50+ mph wind starts becoming uncomfortable, and with an 80+ mph wind becomes not very fun at all. Still, ice storms are a fascinating part of the weather we see here on Mount Washington and in New England; but I'm glad they're not an everyday occurrence!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

06:56 Fri Apr 4th

Despite the occasional frontal boundary, high pressure has been in control over the last few days, resulting in very pleasant conditions. Temperatures Monday rose to 34 degrees, followed by 29 on Tuesday and 31 on Wednesday. When our shift arrived at the summit Wednesday, it was the first time since probably late October or November that we were able to step out of the snowcat without having to wear a hat, gloves, or our ski goggles. For the first time in months while walking up and down the tower, drops of water were falling and colliding with the top of my head, a sign that all of the ice within the tower is beginning to melt! Maybe spring is actually here?

The severe weather outbreak across the south central United States yesterday is a second indication of spring. There were roughly 193 reports of severe weather stretching from Texas to West Virginia and about 8 tornadoes across three states. These outbreaks are quite common during the spring months, with May being the peak month for tornadoes. That same system will move northwest of New England overnight tonight, resulting in mixed precipitation across the higher summits as temperatures rise into the upper 20s.

Speaking of severe weather, yesterday and today mark the 40th anniversary of the 'Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974'. One of the worst in history, the super outbreak resulted in 148 tornadoes across 13 states and Canada. 307 people lost their lives and nearly 5,500 were injured.

If you too enjoy severe weather, come out to the Port City Music Hall in Portland, ME TONIGHT from 5:30 PM - 9:00pm for An Evening with Good Morning America's Ginger Zee - Meteorologist and Storm Chaser. A fundraiser to benefit the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory, Zee will share the trials and triumphs of her ascension to stardom on Good Morning America, then offer an inside look at the world of storm chasing. WMTW-TV Channel 8's Storm Team including Roger Griswold, Matt Zidle, Mallory Brooke and Paul Janus will be there as well! A few tickets still remain and some will be available at the door (provided it does not sell out beforehand). We hope to see you there!

Samuel Hewitt – Summit Intern

18:12 Wed Apr 2nd

All though the weather conditions might not be as tranquil as Weather Observer Rebecca Scholand was humorously referring to in yesterday's observer comment; spring is truly in the air here on the summit. Since today is shift change day, it was surprising to return to the summit and see the snow melting and temperatures in the mid-twenties. While I love experiencing Mount Washington's extreme winter weather, spring and summer bring a whole different type of extreme weather. Thunderstorm and severe weather season is quickly approaching us here in the New England region. Before we know it will be common place to see cumulonimbus clouds towering in the afternoon skies and reports of hail, strong winds and tornados occurring nationwide.

To get everyone excited about the change in weather the Mount Washington Observatory has partnered up with WMTW 8 Maine's Total Weather and News , Residence Inn Marriot Cog Railway to bring an Evening with Ginger Zee. That's right, this Friday night (April 4th) you have the opportunity to see Ginger Zee talk about her first-hand experiences as storm chaser and her rise to stardom in becoming the Chief Meteorologist on Good Morning America. It addition to Ginger Zee you also have the opportunity to meet the WMTW 8 Meteorologist as well as see a live video call from us here on the summit. If you didn't get your tickets yet do not worry there are still some left and in addition they will be sold at the door on the night of the event. For more information on this event click on the Ginger Zee link above.

Michael Kyle – Weather Observer

08:40 Tue Apr 1st

photo - see caption below
April 1st Weather And View

Happy April 1st everyone! As I woke up this morning something about the weather didn't seem right. As I normally do, I walked outside for a cool blast of air in substitution for a cup of coffee, but was alarmed by the tranquil conditions and blast of hot air. Confused, I entered the Weather Room to inquire with our Staff Meteorologist Ryan Knapp. After discussing weather patterns and trends we have come to the conclusion that for the first time ever the summit is under the influence of a Tropical Gyre. Essentially the cousin of the Polar Vortex, a tropical gyre is a large undulating mass of hot air from the equatorial region that infiltrates north usually only as far as the Florida Keys. However, there is a first for everything.

The weather pattern setup that is allowing this tropical gyre is an area of extreme neutral pressure subsequently allowing no resistance to the gyre's infiltrative properties. With an escalator of heat supplying the Summit ample hot air for the day, it is unclear how this will affect our weather until midnight tonight, but now we can at least expect to see tropical conditions for the remainder of the day.

For information about the REAL weather for today please visit our Regional Forecast Page.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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