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Observer Comments

18:09 Mon Jul 25, 2016

Our Little Library

Here at the Mount Washington Observatory, we are lucky to have a plethora of reading material. Over our eighty year history books brought by the observers, interns, and volunteers along with generous donations from our members have accumulated to provide a wealth of knowledge in the form of our own little library. Because we work such long days here, I don’t have a lot of free time to read, but I do love to look through our bookshelves to see what I can find.


As you can imagine there are a lot of books about weather. Which is helpful for someone like me who isn’t trained in meteorology but is excited to learn about the science.


There are also a significant number of books about mountains, which makes sense, because you don’t live on the summit of Mount Washington unless you like that kind of stuff.


There are also plenty of books which exist for pure enjoyment. These are great for our volunteers on days when hiking isn’t an option.


The oldest book I’ve found to date is our copy of “Treatise on Meteorological Apparatus and Methods” by Cleveland Abbe, A.M.. Our copy was printed in 1888, and I’m guessing it was one of the early additions to our little library.


So thank you to everyone that has ever contributed to our collection. It helps make our home away from home feel a little more cozy. 


Meredith Campbell, Summit Intern

18:22 Sun Jul 24, 2016

Picture Perfecting
If you’ve ever visited the White Mountains, you know how beautiful and photogenic they are. I decided to check out some of the other images that others have captured, so I checked out the tag #WhiteMountains on Instagram today and found several pictures from the past day, week, month and beyond. Several of them I liked (literally, I gave them a double-tap), however, there were a few that raised an eyebrow; and I am not the only one to notice some questionable photographs as several photographers I follow have pointed out. But I can’t get mad as sometimes people just don’t know any better. So I thought I’d point out a few things to help people make better decisions when hiking and photographing in the White Mountains.
1.  Wildlife - never cause stress to an animal for the sake of a picture whether it is a bug, a rodent, a bird, or a larger mammal. Stresses can be (but are not limited to) chasing, cornering, poking, yelling, throwing objects, or surprising an animal. Let them enjoy the environment and photograph them from a safe distance. And please do NOT feed them. They are not starving; worse, if you feed them and alter their diet, they could potentially get sick or worst. Gray Jays and squirrels are notorious for this behaviour - they are not pigeons in a park, so please avoid feeding them or any other wildlife you come across.
2.  Leave what you find - Plants, animals, rocks, and artifacts should be left in place for others to enjoy. While there are plenty of pretty flowers around the mountains, some species of flowers (in the Alpine Zone) are very sensitive and/or endangered of extinction. Rocks are also a popular thing people move or remove. An example I see people disturbing - cairns. If a rock is part of a large pile of rocks about chest high, those are called cairns and are critical to navigation by hikers in the fog and during the winter months. These are not art installations, so please avoid removing rocks from them or building your own nearby.
3.  Stay off the “grass” - In general, if hiking in the White Mountains, if it is green, avoid stepping on it. While it looks like just standard grass, the ground is also made up of mosses, herbs, lichen, forbs, dwarf heath, Highland rush, and Bigelow sedge (‘Sedges have edges, rushes are round, and grasses have joints') just to name a few. Some species can make a quick rebound but some, if stepped on, especially repeatedly, can die off. So please stick to the designated trails and if you have to venture off-trail, rock hop like a kid playing “the-ground-is-lava.”
4.  No camping - There is NO camping within the boundaries of NH State Park on the summit of Mount Washington. Beyond here, there is NO camping in the Alpine Zone of the White Mountains outside of winter. Additionally, there is also NO camping in places for many other trails, rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, huts, etc in the mountains. For all the areas that have restrictions, you can click HERE. And please avoid faux-camping too - this is when you pose a tent and make it look like you camped at a location. This goes back to #3, by setting up a tent even to pose a shot, you are trampling or placing an object on alpine vegetation possibly damaging or killing it. Even if posed on rocks, if someone sees you doing this in a picture, they will rarely read a description and might think that camping above treeline is acceptable behaviour and perpetuate the trend themselves.
5.  No fires - Camping and fires go hand in hand. So if you can’t camp in a location, you can’t have a fire (charcoal or wood) either. Above treeline this is especially true since there is no downed wood to burn. Those little trees/shrubs near treeline, those are misshapen fir and black spruces that are called “Krummholz” (German for “twisted wood”). These little trees can be several hundred years old and take a long time to recover as they only grow a tiny amount each year. If you are in an area below the Alpine Zone where fires are permitted, keep the fire size manageable and extinguish coal thoroughly prior to leaving.
6.  ETC - Two big things that seem popular on Instagram that should be avoided in the White Mountains - burning steel wool and smoke bombs. Burning steel wool at night and spinning it around makes light trails on long night exposures with sparks flying off in all directions. It makes for interesting photography but sparks from the steel wool have been known to cause forest fires or burning of buildings, boats, etc. While forest fires are a bit rare in New Hampshire, they do occur especially when dry like most of New England currently is. So avoid being the cause of a potential forest fire. Another trend inline with fire is smoke, or smoke bombs which seem to be quite popular on photo sharing sites currently. While these might seem harmless, there are a few things to be mindful of. First, you are setting off a smoke bomb in an ecosystem or the home of animals, birds, insects, plants, etc. So before setting one off in their home think, would you set one of these off in your home? Additionally, growing up out west, if I saw smoke it either meant forest fire or a distress call. So out west where fires run rampant and areas are a lot more remote, I was taught “Smoke is no joke - call 911”. So avoid being the cause of false fears of fires or distress calls.
Sunrise from the summit 23 July 2016

Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist

12:20 Sat Jul 23, 2016

Last Night’s Thunderstorms & an Explanation of Lenticular Clouds

                We often see lenticular clouds at the Observatory, but yesterday evening we got to see a less common variety; a convective altocumulus lenticularis (try saying that ten times fast). Prior to the onset of a thunderstorm band that rolled over the summit last night, there was a spectacular 360 degree view of convective cloud formations. Unsurprisingly, the sky was dominated by cumulus towers bubbling up, the most impressive of which were located over southern Quebec. Bear in mind that if we are experiencing 60 statute miles of visibility, as we were yesterday evening, we can see significantly further distances in the atmosphere; this is due to the curvature of the earth and the fact that statute miles are measured along the ground. Similarly, if you were to watch a ship sail out into the open ocean, you would be able to see the tip of its mast (the tallest point of the ship) relatively long after the rest of the ship disappeared beneath the horizon; in fact, in the late 15th century―a period when even the most educated scholars still believed the Earth was flat― Christopher Columbus suggested the Earth must be spherical because of this very phenomenon.

Thunderstorms building in the distant sky

                More locally, there was a massive lenticular cloud building overtop of the northern Presidential Range. In hindsight, I should have set up my camera for a time-lapse on the deck like I did when I captured a smaller one forming over Mount Jefferson last week. Lenticular clouds form when turbulent, moisture-laden air rises and cools to the dew point and condenses into water droplets that form a cloud. The striations visible on the cloud are a product of eddies in the air flow, which are in turn a function of the wind speed and the source of turbulence (in this case, air being forced up and over a mountain). Pilots are taught to avoid lenticular clouds because they are inherently indicative of turbulent air that makes for a bumpy, if not dangerous flight. Actually, there is one exception to this rule; glider pilots steer right into these areas because they denote regions of rising air that gliders use as a source of lift to propel them to higher altitudes and thus longer flights. 

What was so interesting about this lenticular cloud was its sheer size, yes, but also is convective, vertically-building nature. There was ample instability to provide the buoyancy needed to drive the cloud upward, which yielded a cloud that resembled a stack of pancakes.


                Another neat discernable feature in the above photo is the faint anti-crepuscular rays that can be seen underneath the cloud base. Crepuscular rays, which are much more common, emanate from the sun and are frequently seen piercing through gaps in the clouds on overcast days. Anti-crepuscular rays, predictably, are the inverse; they converge on an “anti-solar point” that is exactly opposite of the sun from the vantage point of an observer. Being farther from the sun, anti-crepuscular rays are much more difficult to see than their counterpart, so they made a nice addition to the already rare and impressive view!

Tim Greene, Summit Intern

17:40 Thu Jul 21, 2016

Where does the weather come from?

When we’re in grade school we all learn about the beautifully simple water cycle as the explanation to every storm forming over us. This model for weather isn’t incorrect by any means, but you’d be surprised how much more there is to the whole process. On a daily basis the atmosphere moves like a fluid on not just small local scale, but continental and even global. This is one of the most core ideals of meteorology, and after staring at pressure charts for long enough and even observing in the field, one can start to get a good grasp on this concept. So while there are many different processes, I’ve decided to focus on one extremely common way we experience simple forms of weather like rain and thunderstorms: low pressure systems.

Everyone has heard of them, they’ve seen the long blue lines with triangles on them and the red ones with half circles as well. While they seem kind of scary and tricky to understand, they’re actually fairly simple and can explain a lot of the weather you see in your neighborhood. So the first question really is “What is a low pressure system?” Low pressure is simply a location in the atmosphere that is experiencing below average pressure. This can be due to a number of different reasons, but not going too deep into why, they tend to form in the leeward side of the Rockies in America. These systems do not move like a car driving directly to a location, they are fluid and move corresponding to what other systems are occurring around them. A critical attribute of low systems are the way the winds flow around them. Low pressure systems flow in a “cyclonic form.” That sounds kind of cryptic, but really the winds just spin in a counter-clockwise way about the center of the low. This is critical for knowing what types of fronts are associated with the low. Here’s a picture to visually see it:
To start and tie this all together, let’s focus on the fronts. To start the warm front is the red half circles located to the right of the center of the low. Warm air is less dense, and has a more gradual slope, allowing moisture to flow up this “ramp” and form rain! These showers usually form more steady and moderate precipitation in the area. These are in essence your rainy days. 
Cold fronts on the other hand are denser and have a sharper incline of temperature change. Due to this, the cold air acts like a bulldozer pushing up warm moist air and forming tall cumulonimbus clouds; also known as thunderstorms! This is typically why things tend to cool off right after a strong thunderstorm.  
This idea of the two fronts associated from a low pressure system is an extremely common way for one to see precipitation in an area. The question is, how does this have to do with Mount Washington? Well if you take a look at the 30 year average track for low pressure, it’s easy to see how often we see systems glide over us 
So next time the forecast calls for a stormy weekend or a severe thunderstorm heading your way, check your neighborhood and see what fronts are heading your way! I tend to use this site: http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/html/sfcloop/radsfcus_exp_test.html

Thanks for reading! See you next week.


Christopher Hohman, Summer Intern

14:15 Tue Jul 19, 2016

A Turbulent Weather Day

Yesterday, we were all thrilled with the prospect of severe weather in northern New Hampshire. All signs pointed to an eventful afternoon for most of New Hampshire and Maine, with the summit of Mt. Washington smack in the middle of the action.

 Yesterday's severe weather risk from the Storm Prediction Center

Forecasted values of CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy) were exceptionally high (by New England standards), signifying a good deal of instability in the air. That's ingredient number one.

Due to the income of a warm, moist air mass from the southwest, plentiful moisture was available, which is necessary for convection to occur. This is ingredient number two.

And finally, a strong cold front was approaching from the northwest. A frontal boundary such as this provides the third and final ingredient needed for convection: lift. A source of jump-starts the convection process, prompting air parcels at the surface to begin an ascent into the atmosphere.

With these three components in place, thunderstorms began to fire across northern New Hampshire around midday on Monday. It didn't take long before Severe Thunderstorm Warnings were posted for these thunderstorms blossomed into supercells. 


 The first thunderstorms to fire yesterday afternoon.

Supercell thunderstorms need additional atmospheric conditions in order to flourish, and the balance of these ingredients is much more critical. First, sufficient wind shear must be in place moving upwards in the atmosphere. Wind shear is what prompts thunderstorms to rotate, which allows the feeding updraft to separate out from the thunderstorm downdraft, or the exhaust of the storm. The separation of these two phenomena is critical for the health of a storm; it allows the cell to continue its intensification without a cold downdraft cutting off its inflow of warm, moist air at the surface, which fuels the storm. However, too much wind shear can be an issue too. An abundance of wind shear will effectively rip a storm to shreds as it grows upwards in the atmosphere. Yesterday, however, the amount of shear present in the atmosphere was right in the sweet spot, allowing developing thunderstorms to blossom into supercells.
 Structure of a supercell thunderstorm (Note the separation of the updraft & downdraft)

Lines of thunderstorms continued to form throughout the afternoon and evening, bringing several rounds of turbulent weather all across the region. In fact, several tornado warnings were issued for counties in northern New Hampshire and Maine, although no tornadoes have been confirmed as of yet.

Being stationed on the summit of a mountain, receiving a direct hit from a supercell thunderstorm is a rare occurrence for summit weather observers. Mountains disrupt wind flow and can present a literal physical barrier to developing thunderstorms. Unfortunately, passing thunderstorms succumbed to these effects yesterday, as any and all storm that formed either went around us to the north, to the south, or hit the summit and promptly weakened.

However, we were treated to a spectacular show yesterday afternoon around 4PM as a particularly intense supercell hit the Presidential Range and skirted around to the north. Simultaneously, the fog cleared from the summit, allowing us to witness this menacing storm as it passed to the north. Check out our Facebook Live video as we followed this storm while it passed us to the north yesterday.

Mike Carmon, Senior Weather Observer & Education Specialist

10:08 Mon Jul 18, 2016

Seek the Peak

Very shortly after moving out to the White Mountains region for the summer, I discovered that one of the best parts of living here is the hiking. Driving down any given mountain road you pass dozens of trailheads, which will lead you to waterfalls or ravines or all the way to the top of a mountain. There's nothing as peaceful as taking a long walk through the mountains, and there's nothing as rewarding as the view once you reach the top.

Yesterday at Mount Washington Observatory was Seek the Peak, our annual hiking fundraising event. Hundreds of people raised money to seek their peak, and complete a hike to the summit of Mount Washington. When they arrived at the summit, they were able to come into the Observatory, take a tour, and eat a lot of delicious cookies made by our volunteers.

As an intern, my main job for the day was giving tours. Because of this, I was able to talk to the hikers as they arrived and ask them about their journey to the top. It was awesome to see all the individuals, young children, grandparents, hiking clubs, groups of friends, and families that had worked so hard to support us. In addition to all the people who came to the summit of Mount Washington, there were even more people who fundraised for our organization but chose other hiking trails to tackle.

There are many reasons why I loved participating in this fundraiser. Being around people who love the mountain and hiking as much as I do was great. I've been living up on the summit since the middle of May, so I've seen all the hard work that is done up here. On top of working on the summit, during my off weeks I've had to opportunity to work at the Weather Discovery Center in the valley. Spending time both on the summit and a little bit in the valley has helped me see all parts of the organization, and understand how much work is done to make the Observatory so special. Everyone who came into the Observatory also understood how special the Observatory is, and they were so appreciative of the work we do.

So, congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated in Seek the Peak this year! Even though we were socked in the clouds most of the day, I had the best time showing off our little home up here on Mount Washington. And to anyone interested in next year's Seek the Peak -- it's never too early to start training!

Emily Schuitema, Summit Intern

16:26 Wed Jul 13, 2016


It's the start to another great week here on Mount Washington. To start the week off with a bang, we have the potential for some thunderstorms this evening. With plenty of sunshine still peeking through, we're crossing our fingers for a good one today. With the likelihood of us being in and out of the clouds for the next couple of days and rain showers possible, the welcome sight of severe weather is always one we will take. As clouds form during the day, a consequence of day time heating, small pockets of warm air channels form and rise. These air channels, also known as thermals, create means for enhanced lift or updrafts in the atmosphere. These thermal updrafts are not visible to eye, however you can spot them fairly easily by looking for birds that "ride" them—if you see a bird hovering over an area without flapping its wings, it is likely that they are utilizing this natural phenomenon. These updrafts allow air parcels to cool and condense at a rapid pace in a process called convection.

While convection alone is not enough to form thunderstorms, unstable air, or air that continues to rise when "nudged", provides favorable conditions for this convection to realize its potential and form a thunderstorm. A culmination of various atmospheric processes can cause a thunderstorm to turn severe, such as ample moisture advection, strong upper-level shear (or how the winds turn with height), sufficient day time heat and fast updraft speeds. While tonight's storms are not expected to produce tornadoes, the potential for strong winds, hail and lightning cannot be ruled out. So remember to always be weather aware and when thunder roars, go indoors.
 Forming cumulus clouds in the distance

Andrea LaRocca, Summit Intern

19:01 Tue Jul 12, 2016

The Aurora Borealis

          Last night, fellow night observer Mike Dorfman and myself were witness to one of the night sky’s greatest shows, the Aurora Borealis. Despite the high auroral activity forecast (a 5 on a 0-9 scale) for North America by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, we were not expecting to see anything too spectacular; certainly nothing like the desktop wallpaper caliber pictures that come out of places like Iceland and northern Canada. Even with a higher auroral activity forecast (say, a 6-8) it is in no way a guaranteed event, thanks to the summit being in the clouds two-thirds of the year. Even so, we stand a better chance of seeing something than does Boston, which was mentioned by name by UAF, because of all the light pollution associated with urban areas. After all, the darker it is, the easier it is to see the light.

Mount Washington Aurora 

What is the Aurora Borealis?

           The Aurora Borealis, often referred to as the Northern Lights, is caused when “solar wind,” which consists of a potentially harmful wave of charged particles expelled by the sun, excites electrons and protons (sub-atomic particles) in a layer of the atmosphere called the magnetosphere. During a magnetic (solar) storm, the sun emits large amounts of solar wind that collides with the Earth’s magnetic field, which acts like a force field, deflecting the radiation and thus shielding the planet. In 1834, a gifted English scientist named Michael Faraday discovered that when a conductor of electricity is in motion relative to a magnetic field, an electric current is induced in the conductor (Faraday’s Law of Induction). The same basic process is used in generators today that convert steam or (indirectly) fuel into electricity and is also responsible for the colorful auroras. This is to say that the waves of solar wind are electrically exciting the magnetosphere, causing it to glow bright green as the charge interacts with oxygen in the atmosphere. As for the reasoning behind the common nomenclature, the aurora tends to stick to the polar regions because of the shape of Earth’s magnetic field. So “northern” lights is somewhat of a misnomer, as there are “southern” lights as well.

          In September of 1859, a particularly strong solar storm was powerful enough that it induced a charge in the conductive telegraph lines between Boston, MA and Portland, ME that allowed two operators to converse without having their batteries powered on for two hours. Nowadays, Faraday’s Law can be detrimental to electronics and the antiquated power grid; on March 13, 1989, a 50-year solar storm plunged Quebec into a blackout that left the entire province in the dark for around 12 hours.

Knowing when to be on the lookout…

          Be sure to check the University of Alaska Fairbanks Auroral Activity Forecast page as well as the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center’s 30 Minute Aurora Forecast to stay up to date on the auroras. Be mindful of the fact that even three day outlooks are not terribly accurate!

Tim Greene, Summit Intern

10:36 Sun Jul 10, 2016

An Internship at the top of New England

Although it’s only July the deadline for our fall internship program is only 5 days away making me think back to my internship on the summit, which led to my eventual career here at the observatory. Back in 2011 I applied for the internship, and was very excited to hear back and be able to work my way through the interview process and get a chance to see the summit for an in-person interview. The interview took place in late April for this summer internship and the weather for my first visit to the summit did not disappoint!

After driving through Pinkham Notch with dark and ominous skies all around I began the trek up in the Snowcat with the observatory staff and got to learn more about the work of the observatory. We also talked about the weather for the day and the conditions we were expecting to face on the summit. Temperatures were only in the mid-20s atop the mountain, with a line of strong thunderstorms quickly approaching from the west. We arrived on the summit just in time. With the storm arriving only a few minutes after we safely made it up and unloaded the gear out of the vehicle.

Snow and sleet began falling, accompanied by several direct (and very loud!) lightning strikes to the summit. Thunder-snow on day 1! I felt very lucky to see such interesting weather and was in awe of the power of nature. In the following days I accepted the invitation to join the observatory as an intern for the summer season, and had an amazing time living and working at this very special place. After finishing my degree for a year I came back to the observatory and have enjoyed working here ever since!

If you’re interested in learning more about an internship on the summit or also in applying for the fall internship coming up, now is the time! It’s a really unique experience, and one that you’ll remember for a lifetime. For more information head to https://www.mountwashington.org/about-us/careers-and-internships/internship-program.aspx


Tom Padham, Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:39 Sat Jul 09, 2016


My internship so far has given me wonderful experiences not just in meteorology, but in some fantastic views up here. Last night we experienced the greatest I’ve ever seen up here, all thanks to the undercast. Overcast skies can seem very grey and gloomy, but if you find yourself above those clouds, you can see for miles upon miles of clear white. It’s an immaculate view and can give you a wonderful sense of how that atmosphere actually moves like a fluid. If you haven’t already seen, check out our time lapse video of the undercast: https://www.facebook.com/MWObs/?fref=ts you can actually see the clouds moving and colliding just like a fluid. Now if you’re like me I’m sure you’re completely fascinated by this and want to know everything about how it works, so allow me to explain.

To understand why the undercast happens, it’s important to know why clouds form at different points in the sky. I was once told that clouds are flat at the bottom because they’re scraped off by the mountains, after being here for a few weeks, I’ve found that to not be the case unfortunately. Clouds form at what is called the “Lifted Condensation Level” or LCL for short. It is the point in the atmosphere when the temperature of a parcel of air reaches the same temperature as the dew point and condenses into a cloud. This can change and have different rates depending on atmospheric conditions, but this is the main concept. When there is an undercast that just means the LCL is below the summits, giving us the beautiful view in a sea of white.

 (Photo credit Meredith Campbell)

In this picture the atmosphere experienced what’s called a “Marine Layer.” In essence cold air is heavier and denser than warm air, so the easterly flow of wind we’ve been experiencing pushed cool air off the ocean onto the main land and stayed close to the ground. At the same time warm air aloft was above this Marine Layer, so where the two air masses met in the middle, the warm air reached it’s dew point (due to the low temperature of the marine layer) and condensed into a cloud! Due to the high pressure we had as well, this kept the clouds down the rest of the day, counteracting diurnal heating wanting to push these clouds up.

Pretty fascinating huh?

 (Photo Credit Deb Kerr)

I’ll end this post with a photo of me looking out into the White Sea philosophically. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by! By the way, best song to listen to while enjoying the undercast: “Is there life on Mars?” By David Bowie

Chris Hohman, Summit Intern

15:50 Fri Jul 08, 2016

Seek the Peak

Seek the Peak is just one week away! This will be my first year participating in the fundraiser, and I’m so excited to be a part of the summit team, The Cirrus Contenders. As a New Hampshire native and an avid hiker I have a deep connection with Mount Washington. The mountain itself is a source of pride for every New Hampshirite. The tallest mountain in the Northeast, our one beloved 6000 footer, the majestic crown of our beautiful Presidentials. As an engineer and an aspiring scientist, I want to do whatever I can to support the Mount Washington Observatory. This fundraiser was basically made for me.

Eye on the Prize 

So far I’ve raised a total of $10. J

That’s not exactly close to my goal of $300, and it means I am the worst fundraiser on my team (even the cat is beating me).

I love Mount Washington, and I love the Mount Washington Observatory. As an intern I’ve personally benefited from direct exposure to extreme weather conditions and the knowledge of the Observers who work here year round.

I encourage you to join the cause and hike with me next Saturday as we raise money for this great place (Seek the Peak Website). If you would like for me to hike on your behalf or if you would like to help me reach my goal of $300, you can donate to my page HERE.

Thank you for your support and happy trails!


Meredith Campbell, Summit Intern

07:31 Wed Jul 06, 2016

Fureezing in July

Meow, everyone. Marty the Summit Cat here, writing to inform you of some paw-sitively crazy events happening up here on Mount Washington. It is now July, a time of year where I normally enjoy spending time outside, lounging out on the rocks, and catching some sun rays on the top of the meow-ntain. Unfortunately, Mt. Washington seems to have fur-gotten that it is summer. Over the past week, temperatures have fallen to the mid-30s, and the wind speeds almost reached 100 mph! It has been a cat-astrophe!


Paw-don me, I don’t want to seem as though I’m complaining. Although these conditions are far from purr-fect, I do sometimes enjoy the colder weather. The blowing winds and near freezing temperatures give me an excuse to utilize my greatest tail-ent; finding a cozy spot in the weather room and taking a nap. My fur-avorite spots include the desk chairs and the top of whatever paperwork is currently being filled out. Un-fur-tunately, the observers and interns often don’t appreciate my choice of a napping location, and have the nerve to pick me up and move me to the floor! Don’t they know I am far su-purr-ior to them?


Since I have lived on the summit for over eight years, I am very familiar with the weather up here, and I know that it can change drastically at any meow-ment. Conditions can go from being simply a-paw-ling to won-fur-ful all in the same day! Be-claws of this, I’m hopeful that the summer weather will be coming back soon, at least for a little while. I will become my usual hy-purr self once the sun comes back. In the meantime, you may see me strutting through the weather room or guarding my food bowl, anxiously awaiting someone to fill it with delicious kitty kibble.


Marty, Summit Cat

15:08 Mon Jul 04, 2016

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness on the summit of Mt Washington

Today as we celebrate the birth of our nation, it’s good to take a look back and remember why we are commemorating it in the first place.

Two hundred and forty years ago today our founding fathers took a risk. Knowing the consequences of breaking our ties with Great Britain, they signed away to our independence. They no longer wanted to be under the king’s rule, and knew the repercussions of doing so. They very well could’ve been signing their own death sentence. The present thirteen states wouldn’t have stood a chance had the British military chosen to retaliate. Knowing the risk, they took a leap of faith, believing in independence from the controlling nation and freedom for everyone in the new developing country. Had this not happened, we all could’ve been in a very different place.


I like to relate this to my own life, as I think everyone should, by living through the examples set by these brave men. Sometimes an uncertain future can be terrifying. It’s scary to take a leap of faith, and not know the outcome. It could be awful or absolutely wonderful, but you’ll never know unless you do it. Currently, I am still a student pursing my degree in Meteorology. When I first applied and got an offer to come intern here at the observatory, I was naturally very excited. But then reality set in. It’s nearly nine hours away from my home town and I had no idea what my living situation would be like. I had never even been to New Hampshire. I would be away from everything and everyone I was familiar with, and thrown into a completely different environment. And not to mention I would also have to work on top of a pretty tall mountain. As awesome as that is, it’s also absolutely terrifying. I doubted that I would be able to do it. I questioned whether or not I was mentally strong enough to handle something like that. But I took that leap, and here I am. I have been, and will continue to live out of a suitcase, bouncing back and fourth between bunk rooms on the mountain to hostels in the valley. I’m challenged, I get frustrated and stressed out often, and have basically been out of my comfort zone since that moment I left home. But I have never been happier. These challenges are helping me develop as a person. They’re pushing me to pursue a career that I love. I encourage everyone to do what they’re afraid of doing. To always take that leap. If you ever get discouraged, think back to me and the founding fathers. For no matter what the magnitude was, it was still a risk that was taken.


New Hampshire’s well known Slogan is “Live free or die”, which comes from the quote “Live free or die, for death is not the worst of all evils.” I feel as if this is what our founding father’s motivation was, that death is not the worst case scenario, and that the lack of freedom is far worse. In fact, our location is named after the people who did so. We are seated on the presidential range and named after the first president, George Washington. On a day like today, celebrating the birth of our country, we should take pride in everything that has been done, and the risks that have been taken to get where we are today. Here on the summit, being a non-profit fits the idea of what these men had in mind when declaring our independence. Having the freedom to do so, an observatory was started up here on the summit in 1932. Since then we have kept up the tradition of those pioneering men, including taking hourly weather observations and having summit cats. We love the weather and strive to better understand Earth’s climate system and weather as a whole. We are passionate and love what we do. As an intern, working here over the past couple of weeks, I have met an eclectic mix of people from Mexico, Canada, India, Sweden, Italy, Germany, England and the Netherlands, just to name a few. People come from all around the world to see what we do and experience what we experience. It’s incredible when you think about it. Makes us feel prideful in what we do.


Today is a day to have a sense of nationalism and pride in the place you call your home. With all the bad going on in the world, it’s nice to take a moment and appreciate the good. Appreciate how far we’ve come in the past 240 years. Celebrate it by spending time with the ones you love and encourage yourself to take risks of your own. Tonight on the summit we will be having our own celebration for this Independence Day. I was told that we can see fireworks from the surrounding areas, and tonight the summits are forecasted to be in the clear. I am beyond excited to experience it first hand. It makes taking my own risks worth it.

Claudia Pukropski, Summit Intern

16:02 Sat Jul 02, 2016

Wrapping Up A Season

Another month has come and gone rather quickly on Mount Washington, and June 2016 certainly did not disappoint with its weather. At the conclusion of every month, a thorough check of all forms and data from the past month is required before the month can be officially deemed, well, "official."


In addition, the conclusion of June wraps up a season on Mount Washington, as we consider July – June one complete season (the purpose of which is to contain a single winter in one block of time). This adds a yearly check of forms to our to-do list. In the midst of completing our monthly and yearly checks this week, some interesting facts and figures have come to light:

Our average temperature for the season (July 2015-June 2016) is 30.1°F
(2.8°F above average)

Our warmest temperature: 65°F
(This was hit three times—all in the Summer of 2015.)

Our coldest temperature: -40°F
(This was reached in February. It was the coldest temperature recorded on Mount Washington in nearly 12 years.)

The spread between our warmest and coldest temperatures this season: 105°F!

Our snowfall total: 217.5”
(This puts us 63.7"--over 5 feet--below seasonal average.

Our average wind speed over the entire season: 35.0 MPH

Our "normal"average wind speed: 35.0 MPH

That puts us at EXACTLY NORMAL for wind speeds for July 2015 – June 2016.

Our highest wind gust came on March 29th, out of the west at 133 MPH!

The number of days we reached hurricane force winds: 146
(This averages to a gust over hurricane force 1 out of every 2.5 days.)

The number of days we reached 100 MPH: 32
(This averages to a gust over 100 mph approximately 1 out of every 11 days.)

It certainly was a topsy-turvy season, but if anything on Mount Washington is normal, it's rapid changes and unanticipated swings of extreme weather. Despite our well-below-average winter for snowfall, June 2016 is our third-snowiest on record.


This mountain never fails to impress, and the 2015-2016 season was no exception to that!

Mike Carmon, Weather Observer & Education Specialist


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