16:27 Sat Nov 04, 2017
Best Day Ever, Part 2:Sandy's Little Brother
Let’s take it back to October 29th, 2012. I was a few years younger but equally as passionate about the weather. As a high school senior the top thing on my mind when I heard about Hurricane Sandy was the possibility for school closing. I was very excited to get a break from classes and get to relax at home, but I was ignorant of how powerful this storm was going to be.
Hurricane Sandy drove right into the coast of New Jersey, the state I call home, bringing destructive storm surges and impressive winds to the coast. I lived far enough inland to not be affected by the storm surge but the winds were another story.
Figure 1: Winds from Hurricane Sandy blew a tree onto my house.
Even at the age of 17 I was an avid extreme weather enthusiast. So when the winds started picking up, I ran towards them. I can remember staring out the windows and occasionally stepping outside to experience them first hand and thinking to myself that this was the most intense wind storm I would ever experience.
I was wrong.
Fast forward 5 years to October 29th,2017. It was the anniversary of my highest winds ever felt yet I stood in calm weather. I was off shift from my internship at MWObs taking in the relaxing New Hampshire views but all I could think about was the storm that was forecasted to hit our area over the next 24 hours. A mid latitude low pressure system was trekking across the country about to make it's way up into New England. At the same time, the remnants of Tropical Storm Philippe were also making their way to the New Hampshire area looking to merge with the low pressure system and create a hybrid of the two systems. The timing of this storm was eerie yet fascinating. Forecasted to hit on the exact anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which is where my nickname “Sandy’s little brother” stemmed from.
Figure 2: NOAA's Tropical-Storm-Force Wind Speed Probabilities chart for Tropical Storm Philippe. Notice New Hampshire in the indirect path of the storm. Effects of this storm would be felt throughout the state.
If these two systems did meet as forecasted, it would create the potential for some very high winds and the possibility of large amounts of rain for the valleys and the summits. This chance of severe weather had me very excited. I was in the right place to be a part of it however, I was itching to be in the worst of it, on top of Mount Washington. Although it was our off week from the summit, my co-worker Adam and I arranged plans to be brought up to the summit for the chance to experience the full forces that were about to come down on us from this hybrid system.
I packed up for the trip and headed up the mountain on the afternoon before the highest winds were expected. It wasn’t long before the excitement spread and everyone was anticipating what could potentially be some of our highest winds ever experienced. A wind gust guess game broke out amongst us and it seemed as though there was a separation between the guesses. I however was hopeful for high winds and guessed 131 mph.
Figure 3: Wind gust guesses made by everyone on the summit.
Winds quickly increased through the evening and my energy was stirring. I could not wait for the peak of the storm to hit. Winds were expected to be at their worst in the early morning hours which meant that I was forgoing sleep to be able to experience the extremes that I so anxiously was awaiting. It was 3 am and many had called it a night, however I stood at the Hays chart, listening to the whistling of the winds and watching as the needle rose and lulled with the gusts of the winds. That’s when the needle looked to sky rocket, jumping from calm winds to the highest gust of the night, 133 mph!
Figure 4: The Hay's chart for the peak of the storm. The Further the red line records from the center the higher the wind speeds.
This was a new personal wind record for me, strongly surpassing my previous high winds seen exactly 5 years ago during Hurricane Sandy. I was elated to be able to observe and be a part of something so powerful.
Rain came down in buckets and winds howled into the morning but I went to bed the happiest I have ever been. I came to Mount Washington to see extreme weather and this storm gave me the opportunity to surpass anything I've ever seen before.
Nicole Tallman, Summit Intern