Underwrite our website for a day! Learn how.
Join Email List

Observer Comments

November 2013

18:25 Sat Nov 30th

We're always incredibly grateful for the generosity and support of our members and fans through this special time of the year, with this year in particular being pretty unique. Not only is this the week of Thanksgiving, but for our Jewish members and fans, Thanksgiving overlaps with the start of Hanukkah for the first time since 1888. Many religious holidays follow a lunar calendar, which makes their celebration day change slightly from year to year when compared to a Gregorian calendar, the January through December type most of use use on a daily basis (like the 2014 calendars we are now selling!) Apparently, this overlapping of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah won't happen again for over 79,000 years! Happy Holidays!

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

13:44 Fri Nov 29th

photo - see caption below
7:00-9:00 PM 11-27-13 Thermograph

In anticipation of Wednesday's Nor'easter, my shift-mates and I arrived at the summit early on Tuesday evening so that we would not have to battle the storm Wednesday morning. Snow had already begun to fall by the time we reached the summit cone and temperatures were hovering in the middle 20's. The snow continued to fall during the overnight hours and temperatures began to rise ahead of the system's warm front. During the early morning hours of Wednesday, the snow transitioned to a period of sleet and freezing rain as temperatures crept closer to the freezing mark. Before the transition, however, our synoptic observation revealed that 8 inches of new snow had fallen overnight. Plain rain followed, which became heavy at times during the day Wednesday.

As the system raced to our north and east, temperatures dropped back below freezing during the evening and residual low moisture sparked upslope snow showers, which persisted through much of Thanksgiving Day. These showers added an additional 2 inches to our storm total. Our liquid precipitation total (snow/sleet/freezing rain melt combined with plain rain) was roughly 2.5 inches!

What stood out most from this storm, for us anyway, were the extreme temperatures swings observed during and after the event. At 8:00 PM Wednesday, the temperature was 32 degrees with winds out of the south. An hour later at 9:00 PM, the temperature had dropped to 18 degrees and winds were out of the west. The wind shift, combined with the 14 degree temperature loss was the result of a trailing cold front associated with the main storm system. The most extreme departure was observed during the 22 hour period from 1:00 PM Wednesday to 11:00 AM Thursday, when the temperature dropped from 41 to -8 degrees, a difference of 49!

The picture above shows our thermograph from 7:00-9:00 PM Wednesday. The 14 degree departure is clearly evident!

Samuel Hewitt – Summit Intern

11:03 Thu Nov 28th

While the observations are as routine as ever (albeit in snow, hurricane force winds and wind chills of -40 degrees) today, our actual routine will incorporate most of the things we would love to be doing if at home with friends and family. To start the day, deicing, radio shows, forecasting, shoveling and data check will proceed as normal, only to be hopefully followed up by football, roasting the turkey, finishing pies, and whipping up side dishes.

I imagine that we will also have a moment tonight around the dinner table to pause before our meal and give thanks for all that we have. Here at the Mount Washington Observatory we have a lot to be thankful for, including the fact that every day, 365 days a year, even on holidays, our members, trustees, donors, sponsors and staff allow each day to be so routine. If you really think about it, it is astonishing what we have been able to accomplish over 81 years on top of Mount Washington, and the legacy we continue to build upon. You can also imagine, how important it is to continue this work, and the significant value of our climate record for present day and future research. Even on a smaller time scale, the forecasts and recreational outlooks we generate are hugely valuable to people like myself who love to recreate and enjoy all aspects of the White Mountains. Finally, as an observer and educator on Mount Washington, I am so thankful to experience unbelievably harsh and unique weather conditions first hand and have the chance to share this experience and knowledge through tours, outreach and Distance Learning programs to classrooms across the continent.

I hope today while considering what and who you are thankful for, Mount Washington, the mountains and the Mount Washington Observatory find a special place in your heart as well. As this year draws to a close we are asking for your help , one member or donor at a time to give whatever you can afford to our Year-End Fundraising Campaign with a goal to reach $150,000 to secure funding for our operations, outreach, education and research. As you can imagine, there is a cost to every picture of Marty dressed up in his EMS snow suit, time spent by highly skilled meteorologists to create forecasts for your safety and enjoyment, keeping the lights and heat running in a brutally isolated mountain top, and many, many other resources that we offer.

So please, give what you can, and I can absolutely promise that we will be more than thankful for your help. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Stay posted for photos of Marty eating turkey!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

21:46 Wed Nov 27th

photo - see caption below
Our snowy truck arrives on the summit

Due to today's large storm system moving up the coast, we decided to move up our normal shift change to Tuesday. This is an infrequent occurrence, but it does happen from time to time during the winter season when road conditions may make travel up and down the Auto Road unsafe. Last night we arrived at the base of the Auto Road around 5:30 PM, with the storm just beginning to knock on our door in NH as snow was falling moderately in Pinkham Notch and the roads were beginning to become snow covered. Luckily, the road was in great shape as it was plowed earlier in the day by State Park, and we made it to the summit in about 40 minutes.

With only myself, observer Brian Fitzgerald, and intern Sam up this week for Thanksgiving, it is sure to be a busy week keeping everything running smoothly. I am looking forward to some more wintry weather after the brief period of heavy rain we saw today, with much colder temperatures and more snow to add to our ground cover. With that said, I'm also looking forward to the challenges ahead (hopefully not too many) and also to some great food on Thanksgiving!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer

17:56 Wed Nov 27th

photo - see caption below
Our snowy truck arrives on the summit

Due to today's large storm system moving up the coast, we decided to move up our normal shift change to Tuesday. This is an infrequent occurrence, but it does happen from time to time during the winter season when road conditions may make travel up and down the Auto Road unsafe. Last night we arrived at the base of the Auto Road around 5:30 PM, with the storm just beginning to knock on our door in NH as snow was falling moderately in Pinkham Notch and the roads were beginning to become snow covered. Luckily, the road was in great shape as it was plowed earlier in the day by State Park, and we made it to the summit in about 40 minutes.

With only myself, observer Brian Fitzgerald, and intern Sam up this week for Thanksgiving, it is sure to be a busy week keeping everything running smoothly. I am looking forward to some more wintry weather after the brief period of heavy rain we saw today, with much colder temperatures and more snow to add to our ground cover. With that said, I'm also looking forward to the challenges ahead (hopefully not too many) and also to some great food on Thanksgiving!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer

14:12 Tue Nov 26th

Dear Santa-

How are you? It is wild to think that another year is gone and we quickly find ourselves barreling towards Christmas 2013 with me writing you once again. This will be my seventh letter to you; that's nearly one letter for each year I have been working up here. So, going over our five point checklist, I think we have accomplished nearly all of your requirements:

1. Hand Written note by November 1 - DONE

2. Email note by Thanksgiving - DONE

3. A preliminary New Hampshire forecast for Christmas night - DONE (emailed it to you yesterday)

4. A reminder on my Google Calendar/Task List for a follow up forecast for the days leading up to December 25th - ADDED and WAITING...

5. Our list posted on our Observer Comments page prior to Thanksgiving as a failsafe - DONE (after I post this)

So, which list (naughty or nice) do I think we deserve to be on this year? I like to think that we acted kindly and respectfully to all our interns, guests, friends, families and pets (Marty Kitty). Marty sends his regards - he's looking forward to the special treats, litter and food you bring him. Thankfully you have stopped giving him toys, because he has way too many of those. When you arrive at NH State Parks Sherman Adams Building, you will find that it is pretty much like you remember it last year. So, you should have no problem finding the 'chimney', the milk, and the freshly baked cookies for you; making for a quick in and out.

So once again, of it is not too much trouble; could you get us one or more of the following?

1. 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 give a gift membership, you receive a FREE limited edition Observatory ornament for you and the misses to enjoy (or re-gift if you so choose). And, if you and the misses upgrade to a higher level, you'll receive a free pair of Vermont-made Darn Tough socks - a great compliment for those new boots we sent you.

2. Gift Donations - This will help lighten your bag of toys and help us out in the long term.

3. Edutrips - Again, not for the observers but for the other boys and girls on your list around the world. This gives us the gift of funding and in return, someone on your list gets the opportunity to stay and learn on top of the Northeast's highest peak. Plus, it gives me someone new to talk to and interact with. And since I know you and the misses anniversary is around this time of year, you might want to reserve a spot. You've come up in the past on one of these, so it's time to come up and visit in a non-professional capacity once again. Or, if you are pressed for time like you were last year, you could also sign up for a day trip as an alternative.

4. Eastern Mountain Sports Equipment - Again, not for us as they have provided us with everything we need to stay warm and dry up here. This is a recommendation if you plan on using EMS for gifts for others on your list. If you use the link I provided, you give them a gift and us a gift as a percentage of your purchase will go towards helping us out as well.

5. Office Supplies - We work like an office, so anything you can send that will cut costs for us is great: mechanical pencils, refill lead (0.5mm), pens, printer paper, etc. Off the top of my head, I know we really need a new pair of scissors. The only exception, similar to last year, are Post-it Note pads since the past few years you've gone a bit overboard with these and I think we have more than I will ever be able to use in my time here.

6. Batteries - Preferably AAA, AA or D's as our headlamps, flashlights and rescue/research equipment use these.

7. Gift cards - We go shopping for food weekly at Hannaford, Shaw's or Walmart; but Lowes, Home Depot, or anywhere else in North Conway is fine. Well, you know what's here.

8. Sporting Equipment - Can you ever have enough sporting equipment? We always prefer foam types to lower the risk of breaking anything on us or around us. But we will take any kind of sports 'toys.' I think topping the list this year in a new soccer ball as ours is looking a little worn out. Also near the top - plastic toboggan sleds since we are running a bit low this year. And the cheaper the better since these don't tend to last us a whole winter with all the ice we have to run them down on.

9. Calendars - We need at least one to keep track of the days up here. Keep them 'clean' for the public to view like nature scenes or humorous ones. Plus, if you buy it from our online shop, it gives us a calendar and financial support (two birds, one stone).

10. Board Games - To keep us entertained as a group from time to time. We already love playing Cranium, Apples to Apples, Things, Scrabble, and Loaded Questions. So if you know of any others like these, I know we'd love them. The more offbeat, the better it seems.

11. 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.

12. 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?

13. Plastic Pitchers - While four of them would be ideal, even one or two would help out since our current containers are getting a little worn out with years of continuous use.

14. A Push Shovel - We get A LOT of snow up here and have to shovel the exits daily. So, this type of shovel helps out tremendously. But, any type of snow shovel you can provide is useful to us.

15. A bagless vacuum - The one up here currently is like pushing a cube up a hill and looks like a duct tape homage to the former vacuum it once was. I know this item would not only be appreciated by the summit staff but very much appreciated by our summit volunteers.

16. A 7 or 8-quart Oval Slow Cooker - Our current 4-quart Crock Pot is great when our groups are small, but when we have large overnight groups up, we need something with a larger capacity to ensure everyone gets a hearty portion plus some for seconds. While I know they make fancy programmable types of slow cookers, the key thing we are aiming for is size in this instance - the bigger the better!

17. Industrial strength tape - like gaffers tape or Gorilla Tape because when winds are howling and something needs a quick fix, it's always useful to have a really strong tape when you need it.

18. Wii remote - We like to play 'Wii Sports' against each other and occasional guests. However, we only have one remote, so playing group games is near impossible. So, one to three of these would help tremendously (and we are fine with used items).

19. A screwdriver set - while we have screwdrivers up here, it is an eclectic mix with many of them worn down. While life may be like a box of chocolates, it is also similar to our screwdriver drawer as you never know what you're going to get.

20. A precision screwdriver set - not every project requires a large screwdriver so these would come in handy on the smaller and finer details on the summit.

21. Avocent SwitchView IP 1020 for remote server support - I honestly have no idea what this is, but our IT Observer says it's important and needed. He even said a 'used but working' variant would be just fine.

22. Another item on our IT Observers list is a pair of Ethernet ports; either a Cisco Catalyst 2960C-12PC-L - 12 Ethernet 10/100 ports with PoE and 2 SFP-based Gigabit Ethernet ports or a Cisco Catalyst 3560G-48PS - 48 Ethernet 10/100/1000 ports with PoE and 4 SFP-based Gigabit Ethernet ports. Used but working is once again fine, but if in doubt, maybe have one of your elf's give him a call just to be on the safe side.

23. A streaming Netflix subscription - After a long day/night of work, it is nice to unwind with a movie.

24. Snow - the more the better! So far this seasons snow pack has been up and down. So some of the white stuff would make not only us happy but also all our surrounding ski resorts and winter activity industries happy.

25. Surprise us yet again! - Sometimes the coolest gifts are the ones you didn't think you needed.

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 of 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 in our forums of our Facebook page. 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!

I, unfortunately, will not be up this year to greet you. However, I will ensure that the other shift has 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.

Thanks and have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays -

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:01 Mon Nov 25th

photo - see caption below
Killington on the horizon behind Bretton Woods

Another beautiful day on the summit! As we push our way closer and closer to the official start of winter (December 21st), the mountain is looking more and more snowy! After reading the official summit snowfall total so far for the month of 32.1 inches, I was a bit surprised. However, after reviewing our average monthly snowfall of 37.8 inches for the month of November on the summit, it seems as if we're approximately on track with snowfall so far! It's really hard to picture that much snow on the ground, since much of it has either blown off of the summit or melted in the sun and above-freezing temperatures.

The trails on the distant ski areas, like Stowe, Jay Peak and Killington, are becoming much more visible by the day! And the closer ski mountains like Wildcat and Bretton Woods look to have excellent coverage! If you're excited about the snow on the summit, you should take a look at the University of Vermont's website monitoring the Mansfield snow stake, high on the slopes of Mount Mansfield! They've had some early season dumps (along with melt outs), but consistently report impressive snow depths.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

18:41 Sun Nov 24th

photo - see caption below
Pushing Against the Wind Back Up the Deck

Today was a bit more than just a normal day. All eyes were transfixed on the dials in the weather room, waiting for the next big gust. Temperatures were well below zero (hovering between -5 and -15 the whole day) with winds sustained above 100 miles per hour for much of the day.

Some of you may have heard about the Century Club, an informal fraternity of elite observers who can walk around the deck in sustained hundred-mile-an-hour wind. There are only a couple of rules-one cannot use traction (such as microspikes or crampons) and one cannot touch knees or hands to any object. There are some videos floating around the internet of (usually successful) attempts at the century club, but I can tell you right now it is MUCH harder than it seems in the videos.

Imagine running down a steep hill. The faster you get going, the harder it is to stop until you fall over and start rolling. Starting the walk with the wind at my back, this is exactly how I felt as the wind accelerated me to a sprint across the deck. After hitting some snow and some weaker winds, I was barely able to stop before reaching the other side of the deck. I then took a minute to rest behind the chimney (I'm in relatively good shape, but it felt like I had just finished a run), then continued on alongside the deck.

Going into the wind is quite the opposite. Imagine trying to climb up a hill that's quite slippery, but the hill goes from steep to straight up in a matter of seconds. That is what the gusts felt like as I pushed my way into the wind. Just barely able to keep my toes gripping the deck, I took it one step at a time. Finally, about a quarter of the way back up the deck, one of my feet lost grip. Soon after, the other lost grip and I was gliding on a thin layer of rime ice down the deck. Even after dropping to the ground, I was only very slowly decelerating. I eventually reached a patch of snow, which stopped me quickly. At this point, my goggles were fogging up and my dreams of joining the century club today were nowhere in my mind. I wanted out, but I couldn't get to the door I started at. Only after about 5 minutes of crawling foggy-goggled, perpendicular to the wind in the general direction of the front entrance (down-wind of the one I started at) did I finally reach a spot where I could stand up. Out of breath and out of motivation, I walked back to the weather room through the front entrance.

I sat for a couple of hours in the weather room, thinking about how I wanted to try again, but then remembering how difficult and (psychologically) terrifying it was. Finally I compromised-I made my way back out to the deck, and walked the perimeter while hugging the railing in up to 122 mile per hour gusts. Although it was difficult and not exactly what I wanted to do, I'm happy I was able to experience the full force that Mount Washington has to offer.

Just in the off chance that this comment motivates someone to come up here and try to join the century club, it is not only highly discouraged, but also extremely dangerous to be traveling around above tree line in these types of winds. People housed on the summit are really the only ones who can have a chance at completing this feat. If you would like to get a chance to see crazy conditions on the summit, consider joining one of our Edutrips, themed overnight, winter trips that stay overnight on the summit.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

17:58 Sat Nov 23rd

photo - see caption below
cold air seeping over the Great Lakes

As you may know, winter has already started on top of Mt. Washington a few weeks ago. Over the next 36 hours, the polar jet stream will dip over the Midwest and the high and low pressure systems over central and northeastern North America will help funnel in cool Arctic air over the northeast. Here on the summit, we will see temperatures plummet to mid teens below zero! As the surface high builds up over the Midwest and pushes eastward, a relatively strong pressure gradient force (a strong pressure gradient force will have many pressure lines packed tightly together over a certain area) will develop in relation to the low over eastern Canada and north of Nova Scotia. Adding these hurricane force winds with the bitter cold Arctic air, wind chills will fall to nearly 50 below zero! As this system moves on and the building high over the Midwest continues to move east towards the Atlantic, weather conditions should quiet down and sunny skies are a good possibility mid next week.

Pratik Patel – Summit Intern

16:36 Fri Nov 22nd

photo - see caption below
Calendar store front example.

Over the past few years, people would frequently ask if our images were available in a calendar. It is something I have looked into time and time again with limited success. It's not that there aren't plenty of available printers out there. The problem comes down to a numbers game. Of all the companies I looked at, the troubles came in one of two ways. The first was a requirement to buy a large amount of calendars to get an affordable price or buy a small amount for a higher amount. Since the Mount Washington Observatory is a non-profit, I didn't want ask if I could throw our money at buying a large amount of calendar prints because if they didn't sell, we'd be stuck absorbing the costs of production. If I went the other route, we'd be able to sell our inventory but with little to no benefit to us as a fund raiser. So, I tried and tried to find a viable way to find a viable balance.

At first I was going to do a Kickstarter campaign, but ran low on time. Then I had a "Eureka!" moment earlier this month as several of my photographer friends directed me towards a print-on-demand site called lulu.com. So, over the course of the past off-week I donated my free time to setting up not one, but two calendars and a store front on lulu.com. Going into it, I thought it was going to be an easy task having designed calendars in the past for my family and friends. However, since these calendars had to be a bit more polished then my family/friend designs, I ended up taking a lot more time than I thought and had to ask for help from a few additional individuals from our valley staff to help me get things in order. But now, the time has finally come where I think everything is in order to pull back the curtain and introduce our First Edition Observatory Calendars for 2014 available HERE. And since there might be a few questions, let me try and address a few of the big ones below:

How can I purchase them? Calendars can be directly purchased at the link above; just click on the "Add to Cart" icon to start the checkout process, or click on the "more details" option for a full preview prior to purchase. At this time, this is the only available method to purchase these calendars.

Who is printing them? As previously mentioned, the orders are being fulfilled entirely by lulu.com.

What if I run into trouble with my order or have additional questions? Since orders are being processed and fulfilled through lulu.com, all inquiries should be directed towards them. They also have a thorough Knowledge Database available here: http://www.lulu.com/support.

Does the full purchase price go towards supporting the Mount Washington Observatory? Lulu charges a printing and service fee with every calendar; however, a portion of the proceeds will go towards supporting the Mount Washington Observatory.

When are lulu.com's holiday order deadlines? All available deadlines for calendars are available in the left-hand column available here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/holiday-deadlines.ep. However, an earlier purchase is encouraged to prevent unforeseen troubles they might have plus it will help you save on shipping costs.

Are there any coupon deals? Ones that we are aware of at the moment are (1) Free Shipping on orders over $50 using MITTE50 at checkout (this coupon ends at midnight 22 November) and (2) 18 percent off a purchase using FBC18 (one coupon per account with deadline unknown). Further specials may become available here: http://www.lulu.com/promos/current-specials or on their front-page here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/home.ep. A few additional coupons may be available if you use a search engine like Google with a phrase like "lulu coupon code". And if we learn of any additional coupon codes, we will try to share them with you on our Facebook page.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

16:07 Thu Nov 21st

We are growing closer to the moment when the former Mount Washington Summit Museum space will be put to bed for the winter ahead of the planned opening of Extreme Mount Washington in the spring of 2014. Most recently, the Appalachian Mountain Club's Construction Crew has been focusing on the finishing touches inside the museum space. Drywall and slat-wall installation and painting has begun and will continue. Electricians have begun installing circuits and conduits. Radiator cowling has been removed, painted, and reinstalled. The gift shop storage area is near completion, with its flat-wall and drywall installed. A new hand rail adorns the new staircase.

This week, the crew continues installing flat-wall and finishing trim. Painting of the museum and storage area space will continue and be finished in the next couple weeks. To aid in the painting of the stairwell area, the temporary wall dividing the construction site and the rest of the Sherman Adams building has been removed. As always, images of the process can be seen online at our Renovation Photos page. Stay tuned for more updates as we wind down our work on Extreme Mount Washington for the winter!

Observer Footnote:Looking for something fun and free to do in North Conway village tomorrow evening? Mount Washington Observatory will be hosting Dr. Lourdes Aviles, professor of meteorology at Plymouth State University and author of the new book, Taken by Storm, 1938, A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane. Come and learn about the most devastating storm to ever strike New England, along with the science of hurricanes and the long term effects they can have on New Hampshire's forests.

Will Broussard – Outreach Coordinator

23:40 Wed Nov 20th

photo - see caption below
Lake Winnipesaukee as seen from the summit today.

Working nights, I see the world around the summit differently. Cities that surround the summit aren't identified by their buildings but by their lights. Ski resorts that are identified by white veins webbing the various peaks during the day are alternatively identified by the lights that line a handful of their runs at night. The sky goes from a large bowl of blue to a large black backlit canopy with holes punched in it with the various constellations walking across the sky through the night keeping me company. Colors that fill the horizons below are replaced by a vast expanse of black silhouettes during a new moon or flat silver and royal blue during full moons. Bodies of water go from reflecting the golden light of the sun to the occasional silver reflections of light from the moon.

I mention all of this because of the contrasted views that I took in today. As many of you may be aware, Wednesday is typically our shift change day. They are a very chaotic day as various people are coming and going and we try to relay as much information between the two shifts so we don't skip a beat. In all the chaos, it is the responsibility of the upcoming night observer to cover the handful of daytime weather observations that need to be done during the time of transition. As I am the night observer for the current shift that meant I got to do a few observations during the day today and then my normal nightly routine tonight. So, I got to enjoy the world around the summit in two ways "today" - the large spectrum of the day and the smaller but equally beautiful spectrum of the night.

Observer Footnote:Looking for something fun and free to do in North Conway village Friday evening? Mount Washington Observatory will be hosting Dr. Lourdes Avilés, professor of meteorology at Plymouth State University and author of the new book, Taken by Storm, 1938, A Social and Meteorological History of the Great New England Hurricane. Come and learn about the most devastating storm to ever strike New England, along with the science of hurricanes and the long term effects they can have on New Hampshire's forests.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

22:37 Tue Nov 19th

Ever wonder why the "high pressure" meteorologists talk about is usually associated with nice weather? High atmospheric (or barometric) pressure causes sinking motions of air at the surface, meaning the air underneath a high pressure is both warming and drying out as it descends towards the surface. This tends to suppress cloud development, and often leads to clear or mostly clear skies underneath the high pressure like we have seen over the past few days. Winds underneath a high pressure system are generally light because there is typically little change in pressure around the high. Winds tend to spread out from the center of the high (moving towards lower pressure), and slowly rotate in a clockwise fashion. Because of this we typically see our coldest weather in the Northern Hemisphere when we are either directly under or on the east side of the system and have northerly winds (which we currently are).

The strongest high pressure systems are usually found during the winter season during extremely cold and dry conditions. Typically in North America a very strong high pressure ranges in the 1040 mb to 1050 mb range (standard sea level pressure is 1013.25 mb).The highest barometric pressure ever recorded occurred on December 13, 1968 at Agata Lake in Sibera. The pressure was an amazing 1083.8 mb, and the current temperature at the time was about -51 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tom Padham – Weather Observer

17:34 Mon Nov 18th

photo - see caption below
11-17-13 Storm Reports courtesy NWS SPC

Yesterday's severe weather outbreak across the Midwest/Ohio River Valley will go down as one of worst in recorded history for the month of November. Preliminary reports from the National Weather Service indicate that more than 70 tornadoes touched down across six states, the majority of which occurred in Illinois and Indiana. The most prominent tornado was a violent EF-4 (winds 166-200 mph) that passed through the town of Washington in Tazewell County, IL. Records show that this is the first EF-4 to strike Tazewell County since at least 1950.

Statistically speaking, Illinois receives 1 tornado per year on average in the month of November. The hotspot for November tornadoes is in Dixie Alley (LA, AR, MS, TN, AL, GA, western FL), where 33 tornadoes occur per year on average in November across the seven state region. This was the site of the most significant November outbreaks in recorded history, which occurred from the 21st-23rd of 1992. There were 105 tornadoes and 26 people lost their lives.

This event is a reminder that cold season tornado outbreaks can occur. Generally speaking, the instability needed for thunderstorm development is heavily reliant on how much daytime heating a region sees (the more the better). In yesterday's case, marginal heating (temperatures 60 to around 70 Fahrenheit) was enough to produce thunderstorms. What set this event aside from a typical late spring/early summer one was the significant amount of wind shear that was present in the atmosphere. The shear compensated for the lack of heating to produce nearly 70 tornadoes. It is hard to believe that just one week ago, this region was blanketed with 0.5 inches of snow!

This same system crossed New England early this morning, producing heavy rain showers and a few rumbles of thunder. On the summit, we received 1.01" of rain and winds gusted to 97 mph. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by yesterday's tornadoes.

Samuel Hewitt – Summit Intern

12:28 Sun Nov 17th

photo - see caption below
Tornado Probability: National Weather Service SPC

As the calendar closes in on Thanksgiving Day, our shift is beginning the planning phases for our Turkey Day menu just like countless cooks across America. As you may be well aware, our facility here on the Rockpile operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which means that ultimately one of our shifts will be at work for the holiday, meaning without friends and family we will be sure to put an absurd amount of focus into what we will eat. These are our menu ideas so far:

Dinner: Turkey, stuffed with homemade sourdough stuffing, green bean casserole, carrot souffle, mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash, cranberry sauce, GRAVY

Dessert: Apple Pie (of course, Pumpkin Pie (duh), Sweet Potato Pie? Would love to give this a try this year. Ice Cream Whipped Cream

Drinks: Homemade Cider, Beaujolais Nouveau and Water (for those of us who are still on shift)

That's all for now, but we'd love to hear about some of your favorite recipes or suggestions for an extra special Thanksgiving on the Rockpile!

In actual weather news, stay tuned to what's happening in the Midwest/Ohio River Valley as a strong cold front pushes through the region. Tornado watches and warnings are already in affect across much of Illinois, with the possibility of cells producing EF2+ strength tornadoes, spilling into Indiana as well this afternoon. For more information on severe storms, take a look at today's Convective Outlook on NWS Storm Prediction Center's website. Note: the photo alongside today's comment shows tornado probabilities, with hashed areas indicating a 10% possibility of tornadoes of EFT2-5 strength.

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

16:48 Thu Nov 14th

Winter is certainly taking hold at the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire, where we are now 7 weeks into the demolition of the space that will become Extreme Mount Washington in the spring of 2014, some 6 months away.

Last week, 4 members of the Appalachian Mountain Club's Construction Crew spent 4 days at the summit. Their work focused on taping, mudding, and sanding drywall, continued painting of walls and ceilings, and the installation of flatwall within the new gift shop area.

This week, the AMC crew will continue much of this work, along with the construction and installation of a door to the new storage space. This space is located below the redesigned stairway, which will be outfitted with a brand new railing this week. Our guests will be joined by an electrician to help install electrical conduits and run wiring for the new space. Images of the process can be seen online at our Renovation Photos page.

Next week we expect painting and slatwall to be completed. An additional electrician will join the crew for continued work installing electrical circuits/conduits, in addition to the installation of tracks for new track lighting.

As work begins we still have just over $26,000 left to raise on the project's $825,000 budget. Help us bring this important project to completion by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount on ExtremeMountWashington.org.

Will Broussard – Outreach Coordinator

08:38 Thu Nov 14th

photo - see caption below
MWO Truck

The time of year for shift changes we would consider 'routine' has come to an end. Ascending and descending the mountain will become a lot more complicated during the winter; and yesterday's shift change served as an excellent example of foreshadowing.

Our crew left the base of the Auto Road just before 9 AM, with chains fixed to the tires of both our truck and van. The truck led the way with the plow, hoping to cut through any snow drifts that may impede our progress to the summit. With temperatures on top hovering in the single digits below zero, we wanted to be sure not to take any unnecessary chances, and be 100% prepared. All of the crew was dressed in full winter gear, and was ready to hoof it to work, should the truck fail to get us up successfully.

Things were proceeding fairly well until we ran into significant blowing snow on the 6- and 7- mile stretches of the road, which were creating large snow drifts on the Auto Road. With a little help, our truck's plow managed to cut through what remained of these drifts, clearing the path for us to the summit!

It's only November, and Snow Cat season is just around the corner for us! Pretty soon, shift changes that would generally take 20-30 minutes in the summer time, will turn in to 1, 2, 3...maybe up to 5 hours as blowing and drifting snow, freezing fog, and arctic temperatures all do their best to obstruct our path of ascension. Here's hoping for a relatively uneventful winter!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:46 Tue Nov 12th

Once a year, a very special thing happens for each of the Observers on the summit. Vacation! Tomorrow when I get off the summit, my vacation will begin and I will not return to the summit until December 4th. With our schedule, normally we work eight days then get six days off, so with my 'week' off, I will end up with 20 days off for adventure. This year I am off to explore the weather of the US Virgin Islands. With an average daily temperature in the 80s (Fahrenheit), I am looking forward to thawing out a bit. I am excited for this experience and am looking forward to a different experience than Mount Washington's. However, I will return in time for the start of ski season!

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

21:01 Mon Nov 11th

photo - see caption below

The weather on the summits for the next 36 hours will be very active and extreme. As the cold front passes through tonight into tomorrow, temperature will plummet to below zero as cold Arctic air settles over the region from the North. In addition, winds will reach cat. 1 hurricane speeds and heavy riming can occur as the summit will be in the fog. Seeing as how the weather outside is getting colder by the day. Marty decided to pick a new spot and get really cozy on top of the Polycom system. The Polycom system you see in the picture is what our education specialists use to host educational programs over the Internet. It is a great tool for teaching kids, adults and senior citizens all over the world about Mt. Washington's extreme climate.

Pratik Patel – Summit Intern

18:32 Sun Nov 10th

photo - see caption below
Yesterday - a few inches of snow, Tomorrow - feet?

Windex, to most people, is a blue colored window cleaner. In meteorology, "WINDEX" stands for wintertime instability index and is used to assess the potential for snow squalls to form along frontal boundaries, mainly in New England. To assess this potential, forecasters use modeling software called BUFKIT, which is a profile visualization and analysis tool kit. In this modeling software, WINDEX is found by examining the parameters of relative humidity, differences in temperature, low level instability, and forcing at different layers of the atmosphere. When conditions are met, the WINDEX method identifies when and possibly where a snow squall may occur. In meteorology, a snow squall is defined as a sudden onset of strong winds with heavy snow and blowing snow that may cause whiteout conditions.

I mention all of this because using the WINDEX method, New Hampshire has a high indication for snow squall formation with the next cold frontal passage poised for Monday night. While most areas around the state (even the seacoast) will wake Tuesday morning to only a few inches on the ground, where these squalls set up, there is the potential for feet of snow by Tuesday morning. Right now, the highest potential for squall line formation is in the Lee of the White Mountains; but it can't be ruled out completely elsewhere in the state. Since it is a holiday weekend some folks may be tempted to wait until Monday night to drive home, the time when these squalls will be forming. If this is the case, be aware that roads, especially through the various notches (I-93, 302, 16, etc) of the White Mountains, may experience white out conditions at times making driving difficult. So, please be mindful of this and be safe out there in the coming days New Hampshire/New England. And with the Veterans Day holiday in mind, a special thanks to all those who have served our country in the armed services.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:14 Sat Nov 9th

photo - see caption below
Pile D'Assiettes (Pile of Plates) Cloud to the NE

Another beautiful day has come and gone on the summit. Although the fog only cleared out late in the afternoon, foggy days are almost as exciting and fun as clear days. At every observation, I could see the feathers of rime ice outside grow several inches, until they were 2-foot-long daggers protruding at an angle from the deck.

As many of you know, it is challenging to keep up with the rime ice growth here on the summit. Because of our high winds and icing conditions, we've even adopted the same technology used in airplanes to measure airspeed. Even still, our instruments need to be de-iced every hour we're both in the fog and below freezing to keep them from becoming entombed in rime ice. In the dead of winter, doing this and shoveling the entrances may be the only outdoor exercise we get while on shift due to the windy and icy conditions outside.

If you want to get to the summit in the winter to see these amazing ice structures but don't want to do it on foot, we offer both day trips and overnight edutrips. We hope to see you on the summit!

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

21:03 Fri Nov 8th

This year's Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop (ESAW) is being held tomorrow, Saturday, at John Fuller Elementary. There are still seats available for those who wish to attend. Registration will open at 7:30 am and presentations will begin at 8:00 am and run through 5:00 pm. Speakers will include the Observatory's own Rebecca Scholand and Cyrena Briede. For more information please visit the ESAW webpage.

Rebecca Scholand – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

13:20 Thu Nov 7th

photo - see caption below
Pools of Water at the Base of Ball Crag

Despite the severe weather, many animals both live on and frequently visit the summit, including foxes, squirrels, mice, and even the occasional bobcat. As rain showers turn to snow showers, and the summit dons its winter coat of rime, ice and snow, many animals either head to milder locations or burrow deep between the rocks. Last spring for several weeks while taking sunset weather observations, there was even the familiar sound of suspiciously like Spring Peepers coming from a small pool of water near Ball Crag (a few hundred vertical feet and a half mile from the summit). For those of you unfamiliar with Spring Peepers, they are small (pinky-nail sized) tree frogs that hop around the woods of the eastern US, which make very loud whistling sounds when searching for a mate in spring. Such a small, seemingly fragile animal initially seems like it would never be able to survive a Mount Washington winter, but after some investigation, these animals are hardier than the look. According to National Geographic, these amphibians can allow much of their small bodies to freeze during hibernation, a feat very few animals can accomplish without dying. Although it isn't clearly documented specifically what the summit Spring Peepers on Mount Washington do in the winter, they've found a welcome home alongside the few animals that reside on the summit.

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

23:41 Wed Nov 6th

photo - see caption below
One of the ever changing views from today.

Today felt like a sample platter of Mount Washington weather. It started with some freezing fog with rime ice forming. The fog finally cleared off allowing a view of cloudy skies overhead. Eventually these would break up allowing for variable amounts of clouds over the course of the day. Skies were chaotic as clouds were a mix of Stratus at various levels, a few tufts of Cumulus, Altocumulus Castellanus, Altocumulus Lenticularis, Altocumulus Duplicatus, and Cirrus type clouds. At times virga was falling above and around the summits, haze was swelling up from below from time to time. Visibility ranged anywhere from a few feet to upwards of 90 miles. Winds were as lows as 5 mph and are now ramping up over 70 mph and nearly meeting category 1 criteria. There were periods of time where the sun was obscured and other times when it was shining brightly for hours on end. Temperatures started below freezing and are now well above it which will likely allow the first round of precipitation approaching tonight to fall as rain.

In my travels around the country, I have heard the phrase, "If you don't like the weather in (insert city/state/region/location here), just wait a few minutes." While some like to attribute Mark Twain saying this phrase about New England, the sites I reviewed tonight had mixed opinions about its origins. So, I am not entirely sure if he said it or even said it about New England or not. But I will say, for today at least, if you didn't like the weather on Mount Washington, NH, all you had to do is wait a few minutes; something I rarely get to say about this dynamic mountain top. It makes me eager to see what tomorrow has in store...

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

14:21 Tue Nov 5th

It has been a busy week atop Mount Washington, with Appalachian Mountain Club Construction Crew members and electricians working alongside scientists from the Cold Region Research and Engineering Lab. Inside the space that will soon become Extreme Mount Washington, our work continues as we look forward to putting an almost complete project to bed for winter ahead of the final install.

Last week our work was focused on electrification, with this week's focus being slatwall. Adorning the shared wall between our new retail storage space and the State Park boiler room is a brand new 200 amp breaker panel. Exhibit partition walls, drywall, and ceiling finishes are finished. Painting continues throughout the new space. Later this week we expect the carpet measurements to be complete. As always, images of the process may be viewed on our Renovation Photos page.

As work begins we still have just over $26,000 left to raise on the project's $825,000 budget. Help us bring this important project to completion by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount on ExtremeMountWashington.org

Will Broussard – Outreach Coordinator

17:19 Mon Nov 4th

photo - see caption below
It was a beautiful day today!

When our shift began last Wednesday, the summit was blanketed in 2" of snow and rime. Snow showers fell during the morning hours and temperatures remained steady in the mid-teens. On Thursday, a warm front crossed the region, allowing temperatures to soar well above the freezing mark for the first time since October 22nd. In the 24 hours from 11:00 pm on Wednesday to 11:00 pm on Thursday, the temperature rose from 19 to 42 degrees. Rain showers, accompanied by the much warmer temperatures quickly melted away our 2" snow pack during the day Thursday.

Winds began to quickly ramp up Thursday night, as an intense area of low pressure began its jog to the north and east of the Upper Great Lakes. Friday morning, we arose to howling southwesterly winds. Our peak gust for the day was 130 mph! I just happened to be standing at the top our parapet when winds gusted to 121 mph! I was pinned to the railing surrounding the parapet and was forced to use all my energy to crouch low and safely get down the ladder back into the Observatory.

The departing system dragged a cold front across the higher summits Friday night, allowing temperatures to drop back below the freezing mark and winds to ease during the day Saturday. High pressure began to build across New England Sunday, resulting in clearing conditions and relatively light winds for much of the day. Temperatures however, continued to fall, dropping into the upper single digits by dusk. Today we saw much of the same, a mostly sunny sky and near maximum visibility, with highs around 20 degrees. We look forward to a similar pattern over the new few days, as high pressure remains in control!

Samuel Hewitt – Summit Intern

17:02 Sun Nov 3rd

photo - see caption below
A shot and a kick save!

It's been a tough week trying to get outside and exercise, between the high winds (gusts to 130mph don't help), driving rain and bitter cold that we've experienced so far(temperature outside is about 8.5 degrees as I write this at 3pm). After a while there are only so many excuses you can make to not go outside, so today the crew decided to brave the cold and launch into an impromptu soccer match on the observation deck. Using buckets weighed down with water, which soon became ice, and a foam soccer ball, our two-on-two game began. It didn't take long to figure out how much of an advantage the down-wind time had, as a 30mph sustained wind was enough to keep the soccer ball rolling to the other end of the deck if you weren't careful. After some spirited play (and a pause for our a blog photo shoot) we called it quits, considering ourselves lucky that we hadn't kicked the ball off the deck and subsequently off the summit cone and 4,000 feet below. I think it's safe to say the game was a success and hopefully given some nicer weather this week, we'll be at it again. Happy Sunday from the Rockpile!

Brian Fitzgerald – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

22:33 Sat Nov 2nd

photo - see caption below
Nov 1st Hays Chart

During the night shift on Thursday night-Friday morning, southwest winds began to gradually increase after midnight. Winds were gusting in excess of hurricane force by the 2-3AM hour, but of course, we were all still waiting for much higher numbers than 74 mph! As 4AM approached, the needle on our Hays Wind Chart began to move back and forth more liberally, as winds neared 90 mph. The sound on the deck grew louder with every hourly observation, and more and more of my night was being spent gazing at the Hays Chart.

After my last observation at 5:45AM on Friday (Nov 1st), I decided to stay up a little later instead of heading right to bed, as I couldn't miss the big show! Very soon after that observation, the winds managed to hit that seemingly elusive 100-mph mark, peaking at 102 mph just before 6AM. Thereafter, winds began to lull slightly, so I decided to give in to my fatigue and hit the hay. I did leave my shift-mates with some important instructions, though: wake me up if it starts to gust near 120 mph!

The rest of the morning remained very windy, with a few gusts peaking over 100 mph. With noontime approaching, a steady decrease in winds had taken hold, and the prospect of seeing gusts over 120 mph was becoming increasingly grim.

It was around this time that I was roused from my sleep by an incredible roar coming from outdoors. I hopped out of bed, and not a few minutes later, our intern Sam knocked on my door, exclaiming, 'We just gusted to 121 mph!' I ran up to the weather room, to see this impressive speed reflected on the Hays Chart. Sam, Brian and I continued to keep our eyes glued to the chart as the winds howled outside, regularly gusting between 110-115 mph. Then again, seemingly out of nowhere, a tremendously loud roar sent the Hays needle soaring very close to the edge of the chart. We could hardly believe our eyes, and waited quite impatiently for the official reading to translate in the database---130 MPH!

That number is the highest wind gust observer Brian Fitzgerald has ever seen in his nearly two years at MWO, and the highest intern Sam Hewitt has witnessed since he began his internship in early September. And as for myself, it is the highest mark I've personally witnessed since my all-time maximum of 137 MPH back in November of 2009. The 130 MPH mark is the highest wind gust that has been recorded on Mt. Washington since December 21st, 2012, when the 137 MPH mark was observed by our counterparts on the other shift.

It is also worth noting that 130 MPH is just shy of the force of a Category 4 Hurricane. We were all quite excited to observe such an impressive mark, and we are eagerly waiting and hoping for more of the same over the coming winter months!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Home of the World's Worst Weather
Administration: 2779 White Mountain Highway, P. O. Box 2310, North Conway, NH 03860 • Tel: 603-356-2137 • Fax: 603-356-0307 • contact us
>> OUR PARTNERS Eastern Mountain Sports Subaru Cranmore Mt Washington Auto Road Mt Washington Cog Railway Vasque EATON MWVCC
Mount Washington Observatory respects your privacy           ©2014 Mount Washington Observatory           Site Directory
Web Site Support from Zakon Group LLC