Observer Comments

11:10 Mon Mar 16, 2020

COVID-19, the Observatory, and My Thoughts.

A Statement from the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center:

The Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center is closed as part of our response to the COVID-19 coronavirus. While we enjoy sharing our weather and climate mission with all our visitors, we take our responsibility to our community’s health seriously. Closing the Weather Discovery Center is a step we are taking to do our part to maintain social distancing as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. While the Center is closed, keep in touch with what is happening at the Observatory through our web site and on social media.”

A Statement of Opinion from Me: This was a pretty somber message to receive from the valley staff this week.

Admittedly, we’ve been fairly removed on the summit from everything that has been going on with the virus. And while we can live vicariously through our friends and loved ones down below, none of us have really had to face these implications yet (other than in our stock portfolios, but I digress).

What I can say is that everyone here on crew currently is happy, healthy, and continuing to work hard. Caleb and I have been running the ship during the day, getting lots of work done and staying positive. David has joined Jay on nights to continue his training, and all seems to be going well for them as well. So everything is business as usual up here on the Rockpile as we slowly start to transition out of the Winter season. To clear the air with some confusion, the physical Observatory is still in operation, and its current crew are all doing well and continuing strong in our own “social distancing”.

But the impact of this virus, and society’s reaction to it, really is starting to hit home for me personally. While I’m happy and safe here on the summit, my fiancé is at home working as a retail manager, right on the front lines of everything going on. And it has me really worried, that I’m currently so far away and can’t help her, protect her and be there for her. Thankfully, she is a very strong person and managing as best she can so far. Additionally, my parents called me once I was off shift last night to discuss what’s going on and talk contingency plans. I was 10 years old when Y2K happened, which was the last time my family seriously prepared for a major event/crisis. I remember stockpiling fresh water, canned goods and non-perishables in moderate amounts, and going over safety plans with them to prepare for whatever might happen. Thankfully, nothing really did. But this time, there are real ramifications at play. And the tone of the conversation was quite a bit different with my parents last night than it was all of those years ago.

The major topic, in both talking with my fiancé and my parents, is that we’ve all agreed to do our best to stay calm, keep a level head, and prepare properly without going overboard. We won’t be giving into the panic and hysteria that seems to be on the brink at the moment, but we also will be taking it quite seriously and being both proactive and reactive within appropriate measures. It certainly helps having 2 doctors as parents, to really put things in perspective and know how to handle disease properly.

So what do we do? We’ve got older family members we want to protect, and so the social distancing is in full effect across the board. We’ve got plenty of platforms to talk and see each other online, and communication is key. But responsibility to others and their health is important as well. Even though many of us may be healthy and only ever deal with minor symptoms, it’s important that we protect others not as fortunate in that regard. At home, the future wifey and I have plenty of books to read, games to play, and shows to watch. So the isolation in that regard shouldn’t be so bad. While we miss our family, we’ll have plenty to do to pass the time.

And personal hygiene! That’s been the name of the game up here this week. We’ve got plenty of soap and hand sanitizer, so we’ve all been doing our part to stay clean and sanitize daily. There are great videos on YouTube of the Doctor’s method for hand washing that we all “love” to refresh ourselves on: But hey, it works! Showering daily, wiping down surfaces that see heavy traffic, sleeping in separate bunk rooms. That’s all we can really hope to do, while we trust in our valley staff to develop plans of action and procedures to move forward with. And certainly, I’ll be taking these practices home with me as well.

Lastly, good research. This, also, has been the name of the game to help avoid the panic and the spread of bad information. I’ve read lots of reports and break downs of the virus from medical professionals. I’ve dug through graphics and information showcasing how the virus has spread, the current infected total, and also the current number of people who have fully recovered from the illness (which, last I checked, was well above half of those who contracted, making it less deadly than even the normal flu). I found a great graphic/simulation yesterday that showcases the effectiveness of social distancing versus other methods here: . Simple, straightforward, and an effective demonstration in my opinion. Sometime the greatest tool in your arsenal is knowledge, and that is definitely the case in this instance. And while the number of folks passing away from the virus is very bad and something major of note, it’s also worth noting the positive here as well.

So again, know that everyone on the summit is happy and healthy currently. The rest are my thoughts, perspectives and opinions as to what is going on. It is, well, a weird time in our society for sure as we deal with this pandemic. But my family and I will be staying calm, informed and prepared as best we can in these uncertain times. I hope you all do the same as well, and stay as healthy as possible! And of course, please always feel free to reach out to us with any questions, as we are always happy to share our information, crazy weather and the mountain with you all!


Ian Bailey, Meteorologist/Education Specialist


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