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Observer Comments

08:57 Mon Dec 05, 2016

An Exceptionally Snowy Start to December

December 1st is the first official day of meteorological winter. Generally speaking, winter on Mount Washington is considered to begin much earlier than this—back in October. Although we had seen a few minor snow events throughout the months of October and November, a switch seems to have flipped once the calendar turned the page to the month of December 2016.

Since Thursday, December 1st, we’ve received a total of 21.3" of snowfall…and counting, as another round of snowfall has just commenced as I compose this blog post. It may be warm and toasty in the weather room, but outdoors the snow is falling moderately, with freezing fog, and temperatures lingering the teens.


Our average monthly snowfall total for December stands at 45.5" of the white stuff. A mere five days into the month, and we've accumulated nearly half of that total!


In the month of December 2015, a month that kicked off a fairly disappointing New England winter, Mount Washington accumulated 29.0" over the entire month. By the time this current system wraps up by tomorrow morning, in which we're anticipating another 3-6", we'll likely be very close to last December's total, or perhaps even eclipsed that mark!

With the onslaught of the winter season, we've certainly had our fair share of fun up here at the Observatory, taking advantage of the fresh powder that's present in large drifts all around the summit of Mount Washington.


Let it snow!

Mike Carmon, Senior Weather Observer & Education Specialist

14:14 Sat Dec 03, 2016

Wrapping Up November

So far, for the month of December, the summit of Mount Washington has not received a single ray of sunshine.

While this is shocking considering we are already two full days into the month, the trend even continues back into November. November 30th saw a substantial 21 out of the possible 561 sunshine minutes, and another disappointing sunshine minute performance was experienced on the 29th with a goose egg of zero minutes observed. Yeah, understandably on the 28th, 88% of sunshine minutes were observed, but I was not on the summit so I will pretend that did not happen. The fog has been steadfast over the higher summits across the White Mountain Region with visibilities less than 1/16 mile a frequent occurrence over the past several days. With strong winds transporting the gray goggle blockers (fog) over the summits, several feet of rime has accrued, and when coupled with round after round of upslope snow showers, the summit of Mount Washington has truly become a Winter Wonderland. When walking around the summit cone, several snowdrifts 6-8 feet high have formed thanks to consecutive days with sustained winds above 50 mph. These snowdrifts made trekking to the precipitation can last night a fun little adventure.

Yes, sunshine will return as high pressure finally kicks the stubborn trough of low pressure offshore and ushers in drier air. The western edge of the departing trough; however, will remain over the region into tonight leading to another day that will likely fail to provide our day shift with any Vitamin D. An active upper level pattern will then set up over New England allowing a series of disturbances to move through during the workweek and into the following weekend. As a result, visibility will be gray more often than not atop the Rockpile for the (meteorologically speaking) foreseeable future.

Prior to my return to the Observatory, I worked in a basement with no windows so I really have no room to complain. On clear days, the views certainly make up for the prolonged periods we occasionally go through with zero visibility. If it were not for these types of days on the summit, Weather Observer Adam Gill, and likely the most die-hard winter weather enthusiast on this planet would not be so chipper as I turn things over to him and Mike at 5:00 every morning. Seriously… I think his alarm clock is the RADAR turning on in the morning. Who am I kidding though? That describes all of us that work up here!


Caleb Meute, Weather Observer & Staff Meteorologist

07:22 Thu Dec 01, 2016

Dear Santa...
Dear Santa-
Another year already, where does the time go!? Hope all is well at the North Pole and the elves are putting the final touches on your “Nice List.” I hope we land on your “Nice” list once again this year…
I like to think that we acted kindly and respectfully to all our interns, guests, friends, families and pet (Marty Kitty). By the way, Marty sends his regards – he’s looking forward to the special treats, litter and food you traditionally bring him. We are eternally grateful that you have stopped giving him toys and catnip; we were running out of space to store it all.
When you arrive at NH State Parks Sherman Adams Building, you will find a similar layout to last year. If you are having trouble remembering, your scout the Elf on the Shelf can give you a preliminary report and guide you to your milk and the freshly baked cookies for a quick in and out.
So once again, it is not too much trouble; could you get us one or more of the following?
1. A low-end notebook or chromebook - We typically provide our guest access to a community laptop to shoot a quick “guess-where-I’m-at” email/status update. So I know our guests would greatly appreciate this opportunity to continue.
2. Kitchen supplies - while we have a fully stocked kitchen, in talking with our volunteers we found that we need a few items like a food saver, a waffle maker, or more storage containers of various sizes.
3. Office Supplies - We work like an office, so anything you can send that will cut costs for us is great: mechanical pencils, lead refills (0.5 or 0.7mm), erasers, pens, multi-colored sharpies, dry erase markers, average or small post-it notes, printer paper, etc.
4. Batteries - Preferably AAA or AA as our headlamps, flashlights and rescue/research equipment use these. Or a few 9V’s as our smoke/CO detectors use these annually.
5. One or two large room humidifiers - preferably ones that are easy to clean and don’t require wasteful paper cartridge replacements. I know the summit is in the fog over 60% of the year but when a parcel of air is warmed, it’s RH drops and that can sometimes mean while the outdoors is 100% RH, the indoors in winter can be as low as 10 or 20%.
6. Video on Demand gift card – Since we don’t have cable, satellite, etc up here, we use Netflix and Hulu video on demand to provide us occasional entertainment for an hour or two in the evening to unwind.
7. A Cornhole set (aka, bean bag toss) - Our current set has seen better days. As a favorite indoor activity of ours, a new regulation size set would be greatly appreciated and used frequently. I even hear there are waterproof sets just in case we do get decent weather to play outside.
8. Candles - Preferably the soy-based, large jar type or tumblers like the ones from Soyfire for example. They liven up our living quarters and make it feel more like home.
9. Candy and gum - Since I know you eat a lot of cookies and sweets, I know you can relate. Can we ever really have enough?
10. A GR2Analyst license - this software would help us visualize weather data/models and up our weather forecasting and displays on the summit.
11. Smartphone microphone and windscreen - We have recently been utilizing Facebook live, streaming weather events as they happen and interacting with individuals in real-time. In the few that we have done, audio quality seems to be the biggest issue. This is due to having to use smartphones to set up live events. If we have better microphones for smartphones, our audio will improve. Wired microphones can work too, but the nice thing about the one above is it would allow several of us on screen at once. 
12. Surprise us yet again! - Sometimes the coolest gifts are the ones you didn't think you needed.
Also Santa, if you are looking for gifts for other individuals on your list (while supporting us too), a few ideas for you are:
1. Donations - This will help lighten your bag of toys and help us out in our bold step forward in the coming years.
2. Observatory Memberships - Not for the Observers, but for other boys and girls on your list around the world. Since we are membership supported, these gifts would be the gifts that keep giving over the year. And this year, when you sign up or give a gift membership, you receive a limited edition Observatory ornament for you and the misses to enjoy (or re-gift if you so choose).  Just keep in mind that this offer is good through December 31, 2016 or while supplies last!
3. Shopping for Mt Washington items, weather instruments, calendars, books, pictures, etc – Not for us, but if you could purchase some from our online shop, it gives individuals on your list a great items or wall decor while providing us some financial support (two birds, one stone).
4. EMS gear or Vasque boots - Again, not for us as they have provided us with everything we need to stay warm and dry up here. This is a recommendation for if you plan on using outdoor clothing/boots/gear for gifts for others on your list.
5. If shopping on Amazon.com, you can sign up for their AmazonSmile program and choose Mount Washington Observatory as your charity of choice. You get what you want and we get a small donation back from Amazon. 
That’s about it Santa. Remember that we don’t mind second hand items so long as they are in good, clean and usable condition. This helps out the environment and extends the life on perfectly usable stuff. We are really not picky and are just thankful for anything. Also, if you want a particular type of cookie and drink, like last year, you can post your preferences on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. We will try once again to keep the plate full, but you’ve had our volunteers cooking, it’s hard to pass up sometimes; so delicious!
Like usual, we will ensure that we have everything in order for your arrival: a clear deck and path to the door, well greased doors, deiced stairs, clean living quarters, decorated Christmas tree (maybe another real one like last year?), and a full plate of cookies next to a glass of milk/nog/soy. And we will keep you posted on the forecast leading up to and on the night of your arrival. Safe travels and we look forward to seeing you yet again.
Cairn in Christmas lights
Thanks and have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays -

Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist


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