08:36 Mon Nov 20, 2017
My First Week, Part 3: Summer with Just a Dash of Winter
Among this series of stories of first weeks on the summit mine will be the most recent. Just this past summer, I began my journey on this mountain that I now call home. Much like Mike, I grew up in central New Jersey. Surrounded by farmland and neighborhoods, the mountains were a foreign environment for me. However, my passion for extreme weather and drive to experience new things lead me to apply for this internship. Fresh out of college and ready to experience the world, I drove 8 hours to New Hampshire, a state I was very unfamiliar with. This was the first “road trip” I had taken alone. I settled into my hotel room for the night, anticipating what tomorrow, my first day, would bring. A flood of emotions took over as I questioned how crazy I was for taking an internship on top of a mountain coined “Home of the World’s Worst Weather”.
The next morning I ventured to the base of the Auto Road and waited for my shift to arrive. I was a strange mix of nervous and very excited. I was happily pleased when meeting everyone, seeing that the other two interns were just as excited and nervous as I was! In no time we packed the van and headed up the mountain for our first week. My first drive up the mountain had beautiful undercast blanketing the lower elevations, allowing surrounding mountain peaks to pop out of the clouds like islands in an ocean. I was already taken aback by the stunning surroundings.
Figure 1: Undercast coating lower elevations with peaks of higher summits emerging through.
My first day began with meetings where I learned about the inner workings of this organization. While I did not understand most of what was being discussed I was still very interested and honored that I was invited to be a part of the organization. As quick as I was thrown into the frenzy that was shift change I was then met with calm. The other shift had left for their week off and the building had closed for the day. This is when it sunk in that I was not just visiting, I was there to stay.
Things did not settle for long, the calm then became excitement as a line of thunderstorms approached the summit. Here is an excerpt from my own personal blog written about that day.
“With a forecast of scattered thunderstorms I knew that the odds were that the storms would avoid the meteorologists as they seem to always do. However, we got very lucky and had a direct hit of a line of thunderstorms. As a young girl, I had always had a fascination for lightning and thunder. I would be drawn to the windows with no chance of distracting me from the storms that erupted outside. Not much has changed since then.”
Thunder and lightning engulfed the summit and I was bubbling with excitement. For once in my life, I was not the only one fascinated by what was happening outside. I was surrounded by a group of people who shared a similar passion and drive. We all stood huddled around the windows waiting for the next lightning strike. It is a moment that made me feel at home, I had found where I was accepted and I loved it.
Figure 2: Hail samples taken from the thunderstorm that occurred on my very first day!
Later that week the conditions seemed to flip a switch with ease. We went from warm conditions with thunderstorms to below freezing with rime ice. This set the tone of how quick weather could change on the summit. I was able to enjoy a taste of winter on Mount Washington in the middle of June. If extreme weather is what I was looking for I had found it; from one extreme to the other.
Figure 3: Things quickly changed over from summer to winter and within days we were collecting the precip can in icy conditions.
After one short week I knew I had lucked out with finding this internship. All of the nerves that were so present when I showed up to the mountain were blown away in the winds (pun intended). I had found where I belonged. I was, and still am, hooked on the thrill that Mount Washington brings. You not only get to forecast, broadcast and observe the weather, you get to live it. I am very lucky to have gotten to call MWObs home for the past 6 months and I hope this internship is not the last I’ll see of Mount Washington!
Figure 4: Enjoying the views from my new “home away from home”.
Nicole Tallman, Summit Intern