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Observer Comments

July 2014

15:03 Thu Jul 24th

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Mt. Jefferson in the Early Morning

Last night at the summit we experienced some thunderstorms associated with a cold front moving across the region. On the radar display we watched the storms approach the summit and waited intently for their arrival. By the time that the first lightning strike was recorded in the late afternoon, the summit was engulfed in clouds. The lightning show that we hoped to see was dampened by the foggy conditions at the summit. I have about two weeks left of my internship and still cling to the hope that a visible thunderstorm may occur near the summit during that time.

This morning we awoke to much calmer conditions and cooler temperatures. The fog cleared out enough to get a good view over the presidential range. Since then the summit has been in and out of the clouds. We have had many visitors to the summit today and this week's shift is in full swing.

Ethan Wright – Summit Intern

19:18 Tue Jul 22nd

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Boom Goes the Watermelon

SUCCESS! Well it took more than a few rubber bands to reach watermelon carnage, but it happened. Kaitlyn made the start of the experiment easy on us by purchasing 'only' 6 bags of rubber bands of various sizes. You might think these bags would contain maybe a few different sizes, but our friends at 'the rubber band store' (identity hidden) think closer to 15 different sizes would be just right. We sorted these out by each individual size because we thought it would be better to keep consistency. Turns out, that may have been the difference. We refused to accept the outcome of our last failed attempt at watermelon annihilation.

The day turned to night on Monday, and we marched up to the deck where Ryan had set up a little studio for us, surrounded by spotlights. I'm not sure how long it took exactly, but it felt like an eternity. Kaitlyn also happened to have purchased the only body builder watermelon, which was obviously trained to withstand rubber band torture for as long as possible. Nonetheless, the water began to pour out and tiny cracks began forming on the top of the watermelon. As the cracks expanded, I felt the need to put another rubber band around its core. Right as I got it to where it was supposed to be, the watermelon split in half sending the top flipping through the air towards those who were watching several feet away. This, by the way, must have been the most well documented watermelon experiment of all time. We have several dedicated photographers and videographers on this shift who risked their own equipment in order to film this chaotic remake of Fruit Ninja. From the attached picture, you may notice my severe distrust of safety glasses, as I had apparently forgotten they were covering my eyes.

The week has been a wonderful one, as high pressure has done its best to keep the summits in a dome of settled weather. This allowed for perfect conditions for our Seek the Peak event, which was a great success! While I'm on this subject, Hart's Turkey Farm, thank you for ruining all of my following Thanksgiving dinners as they simply will not compare. Seriously, thank you though because that food was incredible.

This stable weather also allowed Arielle and I to go for another hike. This time we decided to traverse over to the summit of Mt. Jefferson. While the hike was a blast, I realized the extreme importance of water. Towards the end of our hike near the Mt. Washington summit cone, my legs cramped up on me and requested that I never hike again. I did not oblige however, and I will in fact hike again.

Be sure to check our Higher Summits Forecast. Severe thunderstorms will traverse the region tomorrow as a passing cold front looks to generate some strong instability. These storms could bring heavy rain, large hail, sudden gusts of wind, and frequent lightning. Please reconsider your plans tomorrow afternoon so you do not get caught outdoors. Remember, you can be struck by lightning even if you are far enough from the storm to not hear thunder.

Observer Footnote: The Mount Washington Observatory will be hosting the sixth annual Science in the Mountains lecture series this summer! This free, informative lecture series is open to the public. The next presentation, Weather Through the Lens, will be Wednesday, July 23rd! We hope to see you there!

Caleb Meute – Summit Intern

00:47 Tue Jul 22nd

After a busy and eventful weekend, I welcomed the slower pace today had to offer. This morning, we welcomed Guy Gosselin and his family to the summit for a tour of the new Extreme Mount Washington museum as well as the Weather Room. Afterwards, everyone had lunch together in our living quarters. Guy is a former observer and has dedicated much of his time to the Observatory over the years. We were happy to greet him and meet his family and everyone enjoyed their visit!

Toward the afternoon, I was able to catch up on lingering tasks that have been on my to-do list for quite a while. It's always a great feeling when you cross items off! All in all, it was a productive day and I hope to keep the momentum going!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

23:04 Sat Jul 19th

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Paramotor over the Great Gulf

No two days on the summit are alike, and I always welcome the variety! This morning, I awoke and made my way up to the weather room to relieve Ryan. Shortly after discussing the schedule for the day, we noticed a strange sight out of our office window. A paramotor was sailing high above the northern Presidentials. I immediately grabbed my camera and headed outside to the deck where I saw nearly 7 more throughout the sky! It was a neat sight to wake up to. The rest of the day was quite eventful as well with all of our Seek the Peak hikers making their way into the Observatory. It was wonderful chatting with all of you who stopped through, and on behalf of the entire Observatory, thank you so much for your support!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

19:16 Fri Jul 18th

If you read my comment two shifts ago, you may recall the little experiment we did. This week we will be trying once again to explode a watermelon with rubber bands! We have more uniform-sized rubber bands and we are going to try and keep them in a narrower band around the watermelon. Don't worry though, we don't waste the watermelon, we eat it, and this time we will be saving the seeds to have a seed spitting contest. Look forward to Caleb's comment in the next few days for a synopsis of our second watermelon adventure!

Observer Footnote The Mount Washington Observatory will be hosting the sixth annual Science in the Mountains lecture series this summer! This free, informative lecture series is open to the public. The next presentation, Weather Through the Lens, will be July 23rd! We hope to see you there!

Arielle Ahrens – Summit Intern

20:14 Thu Jul 17th

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Fair weather ahead!

This time last year, I was responding to numerous phone calls and emails with our valley staff about the expected weather for Seek the Peak weekend, none of which were very optimistic. Last year, models leading up to the event had a strong cold front moving through the area capable of producing high winds, heavy rains capable of flash-flooding, large hail, frequent lightning and even the possibility of tornadoes around the state. It was looking dire at best. The day of the event, the front delivered and while the summit did not receive a direct blow, thunderstorms were all around us, which, if you went to the after party, you'll likely remember the brief period we had to evacuate to shelter as a cell moved overhead. It was an interesting period to say the least.

This year things are far less chaotic as the weather is shaping up to be pretty much ideal by summit standards. While tomorrow's Higher Summits Forecast will have further details, preliminary numbers in the models this evening have the summits fog-free under partly to mostly sunny skies, temperatures will be climbing into the mid-50s, and winds will be 5-20 mph possibly becoming light and variable at times through most of the day. So, it will be a great weekend to be out and about in the White Mountains. If you're participating in our Seek the Peak event we look forward to seeing you again or meeting you for the first time. So make sure you stop in to say hello, get a station tour, and grab a bag with one or two of the cookies provided by our two wonderful volunteers this week.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:16 Wed Jul 16th

Seek the Peak is this Saturday and preparations are in full swing. This will be my first Seek the Peak and I am so excited for this weekend. Look for me at the kick-off party Friday evening at the Weather Discovery Center. I'll also be on the trail throughout the day on Saturday, as well as at the after party at the base of the Auto Road. I'll be taking photos and video of the event, so be sure to say 'Hi!' and pose for a photo with your Seek the Peak gear!

The last of the prizes have been arriving throughout the week, putting our total prize value at over $40,000! Take home a limited edition Eastern Mountain Sports Seek the Peak backpack full of free goodies including a Seek the Peak Techwick t-shirt, and get your name entered into a raffle to win hundreds of other prizes simply by raising $200 for the Observatory. It's a great cause and a fun event (you don't even have to hike, you could just seek the party). I recorded this message from Scot and Krissy as we were preparing some of the prizes yesterday. We hope to see you there!

Already planning to join us this weekend? We want to see your photos, videos, and selfies from the event on social media. We have partnered with our friends at Eastern Mountain Sports to give away a Guide 10 Adventure Kit from Goal Zero to the most creative, inspiring, or just plain awesome photo submitted using #SeekThePeak on your favorite social media platform. The winner will be announced on Monday, July 21.

Tim Taber – Digital Content Coordinator

15:22 Tue Jul 15th

It's that time of year once again!

Our Science in the Mountains lecture series kicks-off at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway Village at 7PM tomorrow evening! The series continues every Wednesday night through August 20th, with a wide range of topics being covered. We're particularly excited this year, because all of the presentations will be given by our very own staff.

I have the privilege this year of getting things started, as I'll be presenting on the 'Complexity of Weather Forecasting in the Presidential Range'. I was lucky enough to give the same presentation at the American Meteorological Society's Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA earlier this year. I'm very excited to share an extended version of that presentation tomorrow evening a little closer to home!

I'll be speaking on the unique challenges that we as forecasters face in predicting the weather for the summit of Mount Washington and the surrounding higher summits of the Presidential Range. If you've ever wondered about the nuts-and-bolts of our forecasting process, why it's so difficult to forecast the weather in general, and the added challenges in forecasting for a place such as the Presidential Range of the White Mountains, don't miss a great chance to hear more.

And, as always, it's absolutely free!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

18:05 Mon Jul 14th

Last week was such an exciting week up here on the summit. Thursday started with a beautiful sunrise and coffee on the observation deck. Friday after opening the museum at 7:30AM for the Mount Washington Auto Road's Sunrise Opening, the day's first visitors came down the new Extreme Mount Washington Museum . It just so happened that the first visitors were Alexander McKenzie Jr. , the son of one of the first weather observers for the Mount Washington Observatory, Alexander McKenzie Sr. and his wife. Saturday the auto road closed for the Climb to the Clouds. It was an awesome experience to watch some of the participant's cross the finish line and to get my picture taken with our very own Summit Transportation Coordinator Slim Bryant, who was a competitor in the Climb to the Clouds. It is the weeks like this that are why I love my job!

Jan Berriochoa – Summit Museum Attendant

18:18 Sun Jul 13th

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Hail outside the sub door after the 2011 storm

With the prospect of thunderstorms over the next few days, I am reminded of some of my experiences with storms on the summit, many of which have been some of the most exciting weather I have seen during my work here. Individual thunderstorms tend to take the past of least resistance, and often skirt around Mount Washington and the Presidential Range and either head north into the Gorham/Berlin area or south towards North Conway. Rarely storms are actually aided from the lift of the mountains if the storm is forced to rise up and over the range, with one very impressive lightning display coming to mind when a storm slowly built up over Mount Adams and then proceeded to strike the summit with continuous lightning and heavy rain. Luckily Mount Washington happened to be not in the fog and we were able to witness a pretty spectacular lightning show.

Typically the best setup for a severe thunderstorm on the summit is when a line segment, or squall line hits the summit. A strong line of thunderstorms is typically too large to completely miss the summit, and a portion of this line is then forced to rise up and over Mount Washington. Severe thunderstorms that form into a line segment tend to bow out and form more of a comma shape; a sign that strong winds have been forced downward from aloft to the surface. With this setup and often the enhancement of the wind from the mountain, the summit can see some very strong wind gusts during thunderstorms, often with a dramatic increase in wind speed over only a few minute period. A storm in June of 2013 comes to mind, with winds jumping from only about 20 mph to a peak of 101 mph in only a few minutes, along with nickel sized hail. Needless to say this would not be a storm one would want to be caught outside in!

Lastly, the best thunderstorm I've seen up on the summit happened back when I was an intern in 2011. A line of thunderstorms approached the area from the northwest, and then actually got hung up right over the mountain for nearly an hour, keeping us right in the middle of the storm. Winds were not especially impressive but did gust to around 60 mph, however the hail was the most impressive display I've seen. Hail lasted for nearly 45 minutes straight, varying in sizes from about pea sized to quarter sized. The hail even coated the ground to about 2 inches in depth, making for a wintry scene on the summit in the middle of Summer. Here's hoping to many more awesome storms to come!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

11:42 Sat Jul 12th

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First Place Finisher

It ended up being a gorgeous day for Newton's Revenge bike race! Being an avid biker myself, I would love to try this out sometime in the future. Inclines are a true challenge of physical endurance. Many individuals afar use this mountain to prepare them for even greater feats. It was a beautiful day up here for the race, albeit the weather here typically allows even the most athletic individuals to test both physical and mental strength. Back in Michigan, I would run whether the temperature was 95 degrees or 10 below, heavy snow, or even one case when the siren could be heard. Being on a mountain, you are far more exposed to these conditions. This is why Mount Washington has so much to offer for all groups. Best of all, it offers bragging rights. With Seek the Peak coming up July 18th and 19th, the excitement up here has just begun!

Brett Rossio – Summit Intern

16:55 Fri Jul 11th

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Filming on the Tower

I've had the pleasure of being a weather observer on Mount Washington for about five and a half years to this point, but I've only had the distinction of Education Specialist for 6 months. This has served to keep me on my toes, opening my job up to a whole host of new experiences!

One of those experiences has been serving as one of MWO's summit ambassadors to the media, along with my counterpart education specialist on the other shift, Kaitlyn O'Brien.

Yesterday, we were visited by a crew filming for an upcoming STEM based educational series, Awesome Planet, which will be airing on Fox broadcast stations across the country starting in the fall. They were filming for an episode entitled Extreme Weather, which makes the summit of Mount Washington a perfect location to capture!

The summit weather did not disappoint, as temperatures yesterday were hovering in the lower 40s, with winds averaging 40-50 mph, and plenty of fog! I was able to bring the crew to the top of our tower, through our office space, and to various points outdoors around the summit to explain the operations and complexities that go into observing weather in such a location as Mount Washington.

It is truly special to be able to express the uniqueness and ferocity of weather observation atop the rockpile, and we are very much looking forward to seeing how this segment on Awesome Planet comes out!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

17:52 Thu Jul 10th

Everybody on our current shift is getting back into the routine of life on the mountain. Last night a cold front passed over the area producing gusty conditions and chilly weather. We experienced fog through most of the night but it cleared out in the late morning to reveal a great view of the Northern Presidential mountains. As I write this comment there is layer of cumulus clouds stretching over the mountains as far as the eye can see.

Today has been a fairly busy day so far. Some much needed construction work is taking place on the Observatory tower. We have also had our fair share of tours and visitors to the summit today. I had the privilege of meeting a former observer who worked here in the 1950's through the 1970's. His past work has influenced the way that the observatory operates today and it was great to hear about the differences from then to now.

Ethan Wright – Summit Intern

09:12 Wed Jul 9th

This week was a combination of hanging out, cooking, hiking, and watching the weather people. Most of the staff at the Mount Washington Observatory are meteorologists. The worse the weather the more excited people become. Cloud formations, sunrises, sunsets, and high winds are a cause for an outing to the Observation Deck.

My main take away is a much greater respect for this mountain's weather. The weather at the top is much different than at the base. Hikers and visitors need to be prepared for extreme weather.

Liz Hryniewich – Summit Volunteer

16:23 Tue Jul 8th

For 35 years I've enjoyed hiking in the White Mountains and recently I learned of the volunteer opportunities, here at the Mount Washington Observatory. Now I find myself wrapping up a week during which my home was the summit, surrounded by beautiful rugged peaks and valleys - basically at the top of the world.

Our duties consisted of cooking daily dinners for staff and keeping the quarters clean, and it left plenty of time for exploring the summit and hiking in the alpine zone. This week we encountered some exciting weather - nothing extreme compared to winter weather up here, but for me it was thrilling to watch lightning from inside the storm cloud (through the window) and to venture outside in 80+ mph winds.

Along with the elements and the activity there is so much science and history. And the staff is tremendous - they are all extremely bright, helpful, and fun. While my friends think of me as a bit of a weather geek, I'm nothing compared to the folks up here. They have taught me quite a bit. Not only are these weather facts that they have taught me fascinating, they will also allow me to be better prepared for my next adventure.

I'm trying to soak up as much as I can while I'm here. I know when I'm back to my work-a-day life the daily weather reports will have much more meaning and I won't be able to help but picture in my mind the clouds, fog, wind, blue skies, and shadows on the mountains. It's dynamic and thrilling, filled with beauty and danger. And no matter what else is going on, for those moments you are a part of it and everything is right in the world.

Candice Huber – Summit Volunteer

18:28 Mon Jul 7th

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Through the lens: This mornings sunrise.

Observer Note: Our Current Summit Conditions page will be undergoing maintenance and may be periodically displaying erroneous data or become unavailable. Until the page is fully restored, hourly summit conditions can be found online HERE or anywhere else online that displays METAR data for station KMWN.

This summer, the Mount Washington Observatory will be hosting our sixth annual Science in the Mountains lecture series. There will be six different programs that will be hosted each Wednesday starting July 16 and running until August 20. Each program starts at 7 pm EDT at our Weather Discovery Center located at 2779 White Mountain Highway, in North Conway, NH. And the best part is, they are all FREE! So we hope to see you there!

The scheduled topics are as follows:

July 16: Complexity of Weather Forecasting in the Presidential Range
Unique challenges faced by forecasters in predicting the weather in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains presented by Educational Specialist / Weather Observer Mike Carmon.

July 23: Weather Through the Lens
Mount Washington's unique weather told through the stunning photography of longtime Meteorologist / Weather Observer Ryan Knapp.

July 30: Forecasting Wind Gusts at Mount Washington
The complexities of forecasting wind direction, speed, and gusts at the summit of Mount Washington, NH presented by Meteorologist / Weather Observer Tom Padham.

August 6: Exploring Seasonal Variability of Mount Washington's Temperature Inversions
Seasonal cycles in temperature found along the vertical profile of Mount Washington presented by Educational Specialist / Weather Observer Kaitlyn O'Brien.

August 13: Severe Weather in the White Mountains
The different kinds of severe weather found in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

August 20: Fall Migration in the White Mountains
The migration patterns of birds living in the White Mountains and the challenges they face while migrating south for winter.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

19:41 Sun Jul 6th

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Stacked Lenticular Clouds

As Hurricane Arthur moved off the coast, high pressure returned in its wake which really blew my socks off. Perhaps I should say shoes because that is actually what literally happened. Last night the crew and I went outside to watch the sunset. Upon making it to the deck, our winds reached a sustained 75 mph which gusted to 85 mph. I thought that I would be fine to wear my moccasin slippers outside, as I would just be standing still looking at the sunset. Well, that ended up being a bad decision although for the hilarity of it, a good one. I was back pedaling with the wind when a gust displaced my feet halfway out of both moccasins. With calm winds I would simply readjust, however with 75 mph winds, you get thrown onto your back and into a backwards somersault kicking your shoes off in a fit of joy. Thankfully, I caught one, and a brave AJ sprinted across the deck rescuing my second one before it was sent spiraling off into oblivion. By 'oblivion,' of course, I mean Tuckerman Ravine. Side-note, with 75 mph wind at his back and in full stride, I think AJ would have outrun Usain Bolt.

Usain Bolt is fast, but lightning bolts are faster. They are also dangerous which everyone needs to remember. Severe thunderstorms rolled through on Wednesday giving the summit a pretty great light show. When thunder roars, go indoors! For this particular storm, people were seen taking pictures under a METAL communications tower on the summit. This is immensely dangerous and just about the worst place to be in a storm, especially when you are on this summit immersed in the storm cloud. Lightning has been reported as striking up to 50 miles away from a parent storm cloud so it is extremely important to always be aware of where a storm is in reference to you.

Due in part to today's strong winds on the summit, beautiful lenticular cloud structures were seen across the skies. Lenticular clouds form when moist air is propelled upward over a mountain. This rising air condenses as it cools and forms what resembles clouds in the shape of a lens. In today's case, they resemble stacked dinner plates. My phone is growing increasingly frustrated with me, as I continue to take around 100 pictures a day, but it will be worth it in the long run!

Caleb Meute – Summit Intern

19:14 Fri Jul 4th

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Showing off our festive temporary tattoos.

Our shift won't be watching any fireworks today, though as Ryan pointed out, we had a great show last night with the storms that rolled through. Still, nothing was holding us back from celebrating this American holiday. We decorated the Weather Room and used temporary tattoos to make the atmosphere at the Mount Washington Observatory feel more festive.

While most people would consider the weather we are getting poor for Independence Day, I am actually very excited about it. As I write this comment, Hurricane Arthur is off the coast of New Jersey, almost to Cape Cod. It is expected that we are going to experience winds with gusts up to 100+ miles per hour up here on the summit! It would be incredible to experience a force like that. Our strongest gusts are forecasted to occur tomorrow morning, and I will anxiously be awaiting them.

Observer Footnote The Mount Washington Observatory will be hosting the sixth annual Science in the Mountains lecture series this summer! This free, informative lecture series is open to the public. The first presentation will be July 16th! We hope to see you there!

Arielle Ahrens – Summit Intern

00:40 Fri Jul 4th

While we always remain vigilant of the weather, we are especially keeping an eye on Hurricane Arthur as it continues to make its way up the eastern seaboard. As a cold front simultaneously moves in from the west, it appears that models are generally keeping the storm out to sea by the time it advances toward New England, however we are still expecting to see heavy rains, thunderstorms, and strong, gusty winds up here on the summit Friday evening through the morning hours on Saturday.

In addition to monitoring Hurricane Arthur's progression through the weekend, we also saw some thunderstorms pass over the higher summits tonight as a line of storms developed in advance of the cold front. It sure has been an interesting start to the shift week so far and we are staying busy!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

02:42 Thu Jul 3rd

As you may know, one of the goals of the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory is to take hourly weather observations, then submitting them to the National Weather Service to help them improve forecast models. As a working weather station, we must take observations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although I normally work the day shift (roughly 5 AM-5 PM EST), I have the privilege of working Wednesday night this week, transferring back to the day shift by Friday. I have worked nights a handful of times in the past and really do enjoy the peacefulness the summit of Mount Washington has to offer at night. I'm enjoying it while it lasts!

Observer Footnote The Mount Washington Observatory will be hosting the sixth annual Science in the Mountains lecture series this summer! This free, informative lecture series is open to the public. The first presentation will be July 16th! We hope to see you there!

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

15:21 Tue Jul 1st

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The current Auto Road Stage Office

One of the unique buildings on top of the summit of Mt. Washington is the Auto Road Stage Office. The building today is used as a gift shop and hiker shuttle stop by the operators of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The Stage Office standing today is a replica of the original Stage Office which was built by the Summit Stage Company in 1908, and served as the first home of the Mount Washington Observatory from 1932 to 1937.

It was in the original Stage Office where observers recorded the 'Big Wind' of April 12th, 1934. On that day the peak wind gust was recorded at 231 miles per hour, a world record which stood until 1996. Chains which serve to keep the building in place are stretched across the roof and are a constant reminder of the extreme winds that occur here.

It was a different time and place when observers worked in the Stage Office in the 1930's. Many of the amenities and comforts of home that we have at the observatory today were nonexistent in the 30's such as internet. The main method of communication that observers used was short range radio contact with Pinkham Notch.

The observers who recorded the weather conditions in the 1930's were the first in a long line of observers who have kept the tradition of the Mt. Washington Observatory alive throughout the years.

Ethan Wright – Summit Intern

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