18:55 Tue May 17, 2022
Research to Look at Near-Surface Lapse Rates: the Amount of Temperature Change with Elevation
The MWOBS automated weather station at elevation 4,300 feet, part of the Mount Washington Regional Mesonet.
We recently completed a technical overview of the Mount Washington Regional Mesonet (MWRM) for submission to a scientific journal. The paper coalesces the history, metadata, instrumentation, functions, and uses of the MRWM, our network of remote weather stations at varying elevations. The overview also explains the value of a mesonet in the White Mountains along with the unique challenges presented by the terrain and harsh weather.
The overview is beneficial not only for our work but also other organizations that operate a series of automated weather stations in close enough proximity to measure, record, track, and communicate mesoscale meteorological phenomena. By mesoscale, I am referring to an area larger than microscale, like a town or city's environment, but smaller than synoptic scale, a large country or continent. Mesoscale, typically between tens of kilometers to several hundreds of kilometers, essentially refers to an area large enough to encapsulate storm-scale systems, like cyclones, extra-tropical cyclones, frontal systems, and squall lines.
Organizing all of this information will make it much easier for MWOBS observers and the scientific community to access this information as well as assist other mesonet system administrators to overcome some of their own unique challenges, establish a new mesonet, add further stations to one in existence, or maybe spark some new ideas and technology solutions.
We look forward to making our overview available to the public in the near future.
As we move into the summer, our intern program is back in full force and focused on research and weather operations. One of the research projects that will occur throughout 2022 and bring us into 2023 is the establishment of near-surface lapse rates on the windward and leeward flanks of Mount Washington.
One of our new summer interns, Henry Moskovitz, will be starting this project with a literature review, initial collection of data, and establishment of methods of analysis. Henry will be fortunate to get a first look at the summer seasonal lapse rates and see how they compare to what is generally known.
The project will make use of our MWRM, provide undergraduate research experience, and produce research that will add to the scientific community, improve our forecasting toolkit to better prepare the recreational and business community, and improve our understanding of climate change and its effects on the alpine zone.
As we dive into the research project this summer, let’s welcome Henry and get to know him a little bit better...
Wednesday, May 11 was my first day as the new intern on the summit of Mount Washington, and only a week prior I was finishing my last final exam at school all the way down in Daytona Beach, Florida.
After exams, I drove back to my home in Massachusetts, where I relaxed for a few days before heading up here. Apparently, I must have packed the warm weather with me before departing Florida because the ridge, currently sitting over us and producing record-high temperatures, looks like it was dragged up Interstate 95.
While on the subject, temperatures will comprise much of my work here this summer. My mentor, Weather Observer and Meteorologist Jay Broccolo, has begun providing me with a rough overview of the research that I’ll be helping him complete.
Jay has been developing a study to establish near-surface lapse rates on Mount Washington. In more simple terms, this means we are looking to determine how the air temperature changes up and down the mountain under different conditions. Establishing more accurate baselines for these lapse rates will help with forecasting precipitation and predicting the effect(s) that changing temperatures will have on the local alpine climate and the surrounding environment.
I am very excited to participate in this important work and I am already finding the observatory to be a dynamic, engaging workplace. I look forward to all I will get to learn this summer!
Jay Broccolo, Weather Observer & Meteorologist
08:24 Tue May 10, 2022
Spring Weather Means it's Time to Fly (or Hike)!
As winter starts to lose its tight grip on the higher summits this spring, the Home of the World’s Worst Weather has begun to show a bit of forgiveness. Overall, winds have relaxed a bit, temperatures have become less bone-chilling, and the snow and ice is beginning to disappear.
This seasonal improvement in weather tends to lead to increased recreational activity around the mountains but also more favorable conditions for aviation activities. Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed multiple training exercises from both American and Canadian search and rescue helicopters due to the unique terrain of the White Mountains, and the availability of the helicopter landing pad located just off the summit cone.
Our summit weather observing station submits hourly weather observations or METAR’s (METeorological Aerodrome Reports) to the National Weather Service as part of a network of nationwide stations to help keep the aviation community safe. However, we are unique and differ from most METAR weather observing stations since most stations are located at airports. While we are not an airport and we are not helping planes land, nor do we have any runways, we do have the heli pad!
Royal Canadian Airforce 413th Transport and Rescue Squadron coming in for a landing.
One of the more notable helicopter landings I’ve experienced so far this year has been the Royal Canadian Airforce, specifically the 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron from Nova Scotia. This is the first time I have seen them in our area, as they normally stay in...well, Canada! The unique mountainous terrain of the White Mountains is a great place for the squadron to train because it is similar to the terrain that they service in Canada but is also relatively close to airports (and heli-pads). This helps make the training exercises easier to coordinate, easier for the helicopter to stay fueled up, and also provides rest time for the crew when needed.
Speaking of the helicopter itself (as I am a gearhead), it is an AgustaWestland Cormorant CH-149. I believe it is the largest helicopter to routinely land up here on the summit, and appears to be one of the largest single rotor choppers I have seen and photographed here.
Crew members of the RCAF 413th Transport and Rescue Squadron taking some pictures of their own.
The large, bright yellow “Cormorant” was down in our region this past week for training, and according to an article in the Conway Daily Sun, it was the first time down here since 2019 due to the pandemic. The crew based themselves out of the Eastern Slopes Airport in nearby Fryeburg Maine.
Along with our Canadian friends from the R.C.A.F., the United States Coast Guard and Air National Guard have been doing some flights around our area this spring as well. The U.S.C.G. based out of Cape Cod, MA operates a Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk dressed in the very distinguishable orange and white paint scheme while the U.S.A.N.G. out of Vermont operates a Sikorsky HH-60 Blackhawk, which is used for search and rescue in our region, dressed in standard army green with a white and red cross on the side.
United States Coast Guard Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk on the helicopter landing pad.
United States Air National Guard Sikorsky HH-60 Blackhawk flying over the Great Gulf.
Another notable landing earlier this year included the US Army Chinook CH-47 twin rotor transport helicopters. These may actually take the cake for the largest helicopters to land here, they are pretty massive! It was the first time I had ever seen them fly and land up here and also the first time I had ever seen them in person. They flew in after a recent fresh snowfall, and the landing definitely kicked up an impressive snow dust cloud. Definitely was a sight and sound that I will never forget!
United States Army Chinook twin-rotor transport helicopter landing with its twin flying in the background.
Although most of you probably are not trying to fly and land helicopters up here on the higher summits, you may be looking to recreate in the mountains this spring. Before heading out on your next adventure, be sure to check out our 48-hour Higher Summits Forecast in order to know what to expect up in the alpine zone. It is important to remember that while conditions in the valley and at trailheads may feel almost summer like at times, winter weather is still very possible above treeline.
If you are not looking to hike but still looking to visit the summit, be sure to check out the websites of our partners on the mountain for updated opening dates and other information, like Mount Washington State Park, the Mount Washington Auto Road, and the Cog Railway.
USANG Blackhawk heading back towards Vermont.
Enjoy the spring weather because summer will be here before we know it! Happy trails (or road / rails )!
Sam Robinson, Weather Observer/Engineer