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

Observer Comments

June 2014

23:01 Mon Jun 30th

Going up to the visitors center in the morning before the public comes up and enjoying the sights and sounds is an amazing way to start your day.
What I enjoy most about being the museum attendant is having the opportunity to talk with people from all over the world and ask about there adventure coming up the mountain.
I recommend this experience to all who have a sense of adventure, humor, and zeal for life!

Jan Berriochoa – Summit Museum Attendant

18:29 Sun Jun 29th

photo - see caption below
Slim Bryant's car departing the summit

Today was the 110th anniversary of the Subaru Mt. Washington Hill Climb (aka Climb to the Clouds), a timed-automobile race up the steep and winding 7.6 mile Mt. Washington Auto Road. This year's race was the largest in the history of the event, which first started in 1904, with 80 cars vying for the fastest time up the Northeast's highest peak. Luckily the weather remained dry for the event, with warm temperatures for this time of year in the upper 50s on the summit. After the first of two runs, all of the cars lined up for pictures, with many of the drivers stopping to chat with the people who came out to watch the event. A few pictures of the racing cars on the summit can be found here and here.

With the race complete around 5pm today, the results are in. With a new record time of 6:09.09, David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew won the race! Shortly behind Higgins was driver Travis Pastrana, who had a time of 6:12.29, and driver Paul Tingaud finished third with a time of 6:22.70. Both Higgins and Pastrana drove a 2013 Subaru WRX STi, with Tingaud driving an Audi SuperChicken. Our very own snowcat operator Slim Bryant raced his 1985 Porsche 944, finishing with a personal best time of 7:57.32. Congratulations to all of the racers and thanks to all who participated!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

07:01 Sat Jun 28th

photo - see caption below
Morning Glory

This is how weekend mornings should always start! With high pressure centered over us, it will be a gorgeous weekend for the entire region. The Road Race, or 'Motor Race' up the mountain will be this weekend too. If you're a motor junkie like me, you should come check it out. Other than that, this would be a great weekend to bring the family up and go for a hike. There won't be many sunny days up here, so I would suggest anybody to take advantage of it and come up, check the museum out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Brett Rossio – Summit Intern

15:16 Thu Jun 26th

After the recent stretch of stellar weather late last week through early this week, we've experienced quite a soaker over the last two days.

As of 1:30PM today, the summit received a total of 4.53 inches of rain since precipitation commenced early Wednesday morning. The heaviest of the rain fell last night, with buckets descending from the sky for hours at a time. Even though our rainfall totals are impressive, areas just to our south and east received even greater totals, with some rainfall totals in excess of 6 inches!

The reason for the deluge? A low-pressure system and its associated cold front collided with a very moist flow of air streaming in from the south, placing most of New Hampshire and Maine in a bulls-eye for soaking rains. Some isolated thunderstorms popped up over southern New Hampshire and Maine yesterday where adequate sunshine kicked the morning off, providing enough instability for thunderstorms to blossom. Locations further north, however, woke up to generally cloudier skies, which curbed any risk of significant thunderstorm activity.

That's not to say, though, that 3-6 inches of rain doesn't come with its own dangers! Flash flooding was rampant across the area, and flood warnings are still in effect for areas surrounding the Pemigewasset and Saco Rivers in the White Mountain Region.

If you've had enough of the rain (as all of the rivers have), hang in there. With high pressure building in to New England tonight through the weekend, much drier and warmer conditions are on the horizon for June's finale.

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

12:33 Wed Jun 25th

I had the opportunity to spend two nights at the summit this week. Since it is my second week working at the Obs, I came up to get a taste of summit life. As it goes up here, we were in the clouds for the majority of my stay except for some great views on Monday. Yesterday we had a blast filming some footage for a Seek the Peak promo video both outside in the fog and inside the Observatory. We also went on a night hike on Monday night and caught a few glimpses of the stars. I had a great time on the summit and can't wait for my next visit!

Tim Taber – Digital Content Coordinator

16:30 Tue Jun 24th

photo - see caption below
Amazing Sunset

Well, call me a rainbow trout because I am officially hooked on this mountain. Speaking of rainbows, on the way to the base of the mountain before this shift I saw a beautiful one spanning much of the sky. I believe this was letting me know that this week was going to be a good one. To start, we had winds which gusted to near 90 mph. I love weather and the extremes that it has to offer, so naturally, Arielle and I saw this as an opportunity to go for a hike. Oh, by the way, temperatures had dipped down into the lower 30s making the wind chill bitter, per my standards that is. The hike was awesome, but difficult. It didn't help that my beloved beanie was attempting to blind me by constantly dropping below eye level. Also, my backpack has straps dangling all around it which like to use the wind as an aid in striking my face. I am not necessarily an experienced hiker and I'm sure anyone who reads my comments is now well aware of that. However, I am spending a summer on the summit of Mount Washington, so you better believe I am going to take full advantage of it!

We survived our hike. The following days saw a dome of high pressure work into the area leading to gorgeous weather and incredible sunsets. I think this is what the rainbow was warning me about. Sunday night, Ryan informed us that there was a real nice sunset. Ryan has seen a lot of sunsets up here, so when we hear that, our forks drop and it's a war against gravity to get to the deck ASAP.

A lot of cool events happened this week. The Auto Road running race is actually a real thing. The amount of respect I have for those athletes is immense. Driving a car up that road has me feeling tired. These men and women ran up the auto road, and the winner did it in less than one hour! Saturday night, the mountain welcomed a really great group of people who belong to the mini cooper club for the annual event 'Minis on Top'. We had the privilege of showing them around the Observatory. One of my favorite parts of this internship is giving tours. I have met so many people who are fascinated by Mount Washington and the work we do at the Observatory. Today we gave tours to a group of around 50 people from Australia who are on a trip around the country. One of them even gave me a kangaroo pin. #Winning

Onto the topic of hashtags, Mount Washington Observatory is now on Twitter. Follow us @MWObservatory!

Caleb Meute – Summit Intern

20:04 Mon Jun 23rd

photo - see caption below
Watermelon Aftermath

Last night we exploded a watermelon. This is what happens when you have a bunch of scientists and an idea. During one of the first tours I experienced this summer, we had a visitor that informed us of an experiment where you put rubber bands around the center of a watermelon and the pressure from the bands causes the watermelon to burst. We were a bit skeptical at first, but after watching several YouTube videos, we knew we had to try it!

We acquired a watermelon from the valley, rubber bands of assorted size and color from the office supply closet, and safety goggles to protect from watermelon debris. We set the experiment up outside with the watermelon held upright by a cinder block and proceeded to put the rubber bands around the watermelon until we either (a) ran out of rubber bands or (b) it burst.

We ended up running out of rubber bands and the watermelon did not explode on its own, but it was bulging in some places and juice was starting to ooze out of the rind. We ended up lifting the watermelon up off the cinder block and dropping it to see if that would work. Sure enough, the pressure allowed the watermelon to burst when it came into contact with the concrete and we were all able to enjoy a piece of the watermelon.

We used a very small, almost spherical watermelon and that may have been one reason why it didn't burst. When we try again, we will be using a longer watermelon and more uniform-sized bands placed closer to the center.

Arielle Ahrens – Summit Intern

19:36 Sun Jun 22nd

photo - see caption below
The 'Lightning Position' demo.

This week (June 22-28) is known in the weather community as Lightning Safety Awareness Week. Friday, I started this discussion with the two big things to do prior to a thunderstorm - know before you go and when thunder roars, go indoors. These are best-case scenarios however, if you are days out in the backcountry, these two options may not be readily available. So what are some options you can do to reduce your risk of injury or death?

Time your activity to avoid potential storms. If the area you are hiking in is prone to afternoon thunderstorms, stick close to your grounded shelter or get to the next grounded shelter prior to storms hitting the exposed terrain you might be hiking on.

Choose safer terrain to be on. Avoid peaks, ridges and significantly higher ground around you. If you have to descend, do so as quickly (and safely) on the side that has no clouds over it. Get to the low points of rolling hills. Avoid wide-open areas of 100 meters or more where you become the highest point. While studies have shown that neither wet nor dry ground is considered more dangerous, you should avoid standing in standing water (puddles) or streams as these can be conductors.

While dry snow can be an insulator, wet snow can be a conductor. While some say being on dry snow is safer than being on bare ground, if you can't tell the difference it is best not to be on snow at all.

Avoid cave entrances and small overhangs, which can allow arcs to cross the gap. If a cave is your only shelter, get as deep into it as possible and get to dry ground within the cave and assume the lightning position (see below).

Avoid trees and tall rocks, as they are lightning rods and attract lightning strikes. If you must move through a forest to get to shelter or get to a safer location, avoid tree trunks. Most studies show that a 50 meter cone of protection from trees trunks is the distance you want to aim for.

Avoid long conductors like metal fences, power lines, railways, bridges, or other metal objects. Tents should be avoided not only for the metal they contain but because they can actually become a high point in some areas.

Lastly, when you have reached the safest point around you, assume the lightning position, which will reduce the chances of a lightning strike (however, it offers no guarantees). Before getting into this position, separate yourself from anyone else you might be hiking with. Use the cone of protection of 50 meters apart or greater. Lay a sleeping pad, sleeping bag or a bag full of clothes on the ground. Your backpack, ice axe, crampons, tents poles, hiking pole, jewelry, belt buckles or anything other metallic materials should be away from you at a distance of 50 meters or more. Return to the insulator you put out earlier and squat on it trying to stay on your toes as much as possible while keeping your feet as close together as possible. Avoid sitting and DO NOT lay down. Once squatted, wrap your hands around your knees in a ball-like position. Lastly, close your eyes. Since a picture can be worth 1000 words, the thumbnail to this comment can be clicked for an example.

For additional resources on Lightning Safety, please check out the links below:

NWS Lightning Safety Home Page

MWO Lightning Safety Page

CDC Lightning Safety Page

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:18 Sat Jun 21st

It has been a little over two months since I left the summit of Mount Washington for my new job with Backpacker Magazine. A constant thought I have had was how would I feel once I returned? Would it feel like visiting a childhood home that is no longer yours, or would it feel like coming home from college to see your family?

Stepping away from a place you have called home gives you a new prospective on the work you did there. I can honestly say I have never been so proud to say I was a former Observer. I educated hundreds of children, observed countless weather observations, and helped in some research opportunities. Right there alone, the mission of the Observatory, and I was a part of it! Even now I continue to be a member because I couldn't think of not being a small part of this incredible organization and I encourage you to do the same.

For me this brief visit will have to suffice until next month when I am back to participate in Seek the Peak. Not only will I have an opportunity to hike, but I will also have a booth set up with Backpacker Magazine. So if you are not registered for this incredible event, visit SeekThePeak.org and sign up. Your contributions to the Observatory make a huge difference.

Non-Observer Footnote: Extreme Mount Washington is AMAZING! I am so proud to be a part of it. Visit the summit and check it out!

Rebecca Scholand – Former Observer

19:01 Fri Jun 20th

Lightning Safety Awareness Week is coming up (June 22-28, 2014) so I figured I would get a jump on things and start talking about lightning and lightning safety in the White Mountains. In the United States, it has been estimated that 25 million lightning flashes occur every year with every one of those flashes potentially becoming deadly. In fact, after flood related deaths, lightning is second when it comes to weather related fatalities each year in the US with several more victims succumbing to severe injuries. In New Hampshire, there has been one lightning reported fatality on the Franconia Ridge and another reported on Maine's Mount Katahdin. While Mount Washington has had lightning related injuries and several narrow escapes, remarkably, no one has died from a lightning strike on Mount Washington - yet. With proper precautions though, 'yet' may in fact never occur.

The biggest precaution is being aware prior to an outdoor activity. Checking the higher summits weather forecast (or any forecast) should be a prerequisite in the days prior to any outdoor activity. If it calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity - the mountain will always be here another day.

If you are days into a hike and can't postpone, be aware of the weather and safety locations. When monitoring the weather, know typical weather patterns for the area you are in and then continuously look for signs of developing thunderstorms such as dark skies, lightning or thunder, sudden temperature drops, sudden increases in winds in the direction of a cell, or shafts of rain below a cloud. While these can help you, none of them are foolproof. For instance, thunder - on a clear, calm day, can only be heard when things are 10 miles away. On a windy day though, this can get cut down to 5 miles or less. And while thunder is limited, lightning has a much larger range - it can sometimes travel 25 miles or greater (upwards of 50+ miles have been reported). Above you, you might have blue skies while a thunderstorm behind a ridgeline or two could still strike without warning. So again, you can monitor but the safest option is to not be out at all.

If, however, you are out and thunder roars, head indoors. While it is better to remain at an indoor location, if you are out, you should know ahead of time all the safe places to head to as soon as a threat is imminent. Small outdoor buildings like dugouts, rain shelters, tent platforms, sheds, bus stops, gazebos, etc. are NOT SAFE. You want a substantial building with wiring and plumbing; however, once inside, stay away from those wires and plumbing as these can conduct if your structure is struck. You will also want to stay away from windows and doors - so aim for the center of your structure.

If a substantial building isn't an option, a hard-topped metal vehicle is your next option; avoid soft-tops, motorcycles, and golf carts. In your vehicle, the windows should be closed and you should avoid contact with metal and lean away from the windows and outer frame of your vehicle.

So, the two big themes take away from this comment are know before you go, and when thunder roars, go indoors. But this isn't the end of this discussion. On Sunday I will continue this discussion with some pointers for what you can do in a worst case scenario in the backcountry.

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

17:43 Thu Jun 19th

photo - see caption below
Motorcyclists make their way up the Auto Road

It's been a busy day here on the summit! The second Ride to the Clouds occurred today, which is an event hosted by the Mount Washington Auto Road. To celebrate the Laconia Motorcycle Week, the road closes to everyone but official stage coaches and motorcycles. I don't have an exact number on the amount of bikes that made it to the summit, but there was a steady stream coming up the road for the entire day.

Tomorrow should be another exciting day as NECN Meteorologist Nelly Carreño reports live from the summit! The weather is looking clear and crisp for her visit and for the next few days as a ridge of Canadian high pressure builds down onto the area. Temperatures will hover in the low to mid 30's, and with an added breeze, wind chills will drop below freezing for over 24 hours starting tonight. It looks to be chilly but beautiful!

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

20:00 Wed Jun 18th

Weather conditions on the summit were far different from the muggy morning we left behind in the valley today. Throughout shift change, winds were sustained above 50mph and at times, gusted to well over 70mph. After several past shifts with eerily calm conditions (for Mount Washington standards of course!), I for one welcomed this change of pace. With an area of low pressure slowly departing the region, gusty winds and lingering rain showers will persist overnight tonight before gradually clearing as an area of high pressure moves in tomorrow, bringing fairer skies. I have my fingers crossed for the nice weather to continue into the weekend, as we are all looking forward to the 54th Annual Run to the Clouds on Saturday!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

22:38 Tue Jun 17th

It is an exciting time on the summit. The Museum is now open and droves of visitors have come to Extreme Mount Washington. Due to the weather, the Auto Road was only open halfway causing the ribbon cutting to be held down below at the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center. After spending four days in the fog with rain and high winds, we ended our Friday's shift with a spectacular sunset and rose Saturday morning to a glorious sunrise.

Since this is my first summer on the summit, this week was the first time I had the chance to experience the Auto Road's Ride to the Sky. I have to admit I have never seen that much leather in my life. It was a unique experience to say the least, but I am really excited for next shift when the Auto Road will be hosting the 2014 Subaru Mount Washington Hill Climb race.

Jan Berriochoa – Summit Museum Attendant

15:56 Sun Jun 15th

photo - see caption below
Slightly Breezy Day (By Rockpile Standards)

Summit-seekers got a real treat today with winds gusting to 70 mph in some cases. Higher gusts like this are far less frequent during the late spring/summer months. An unseasonably cooler airmass funneled into the region from Quebec (imagine a mountain of dense air rushing into a location that previously had low air pressure...physically-speaking the dense object will want to rush to the location of low density.). This coupled with conducive vertical conditions allowed stronger winds to mix to the summit level. Ethan and I took advantage of the opportunity to get out and challenge the high wind speeds.

Brett Rossio – Summit Intern

12:34 Sat Jun 14th

photo - see caption below
Marty on Daytime Duty

As Kyle mentioned in his comments yesterday, we are a man down this week, so he has flipped to the 5PM-5AM night shift. This has left me as the sole observer on the day shift. Its been quite a hectic shift, so it's been a bit of a challenge to keep up with all of the goings-on at the summit this week!

Luckily, I have two well-trained interns that have lent a tremendous hand, in addition to having a sort of 'guest' observer from the other shift, Roger, up on my shift for a few days. I know Kyle's looking forward to returning to the 'land of the living' so-to-speak, but things won't get quite back to normal for the day shift for a little while, as he will be headed on vacation next week as our night observer Tom returns!

No matter, though. Both of their vacations are more than well-deserved, and with a little (or a lot of) help from our interns (and Marty, too!), and some well-timed observations, the day's watch will manage to keep things running just as smooth!

One of the busy happenings going on this week was a visit from Boston Globe, which came up on Thursday to perform an interview regarding our new Extreme Mt. Washington summit museum. I took the opportunity to chat with them about this museum and the exciting yet educational exhibits contained within. Check out the article here.

And, oh yeah, come check out the museum for yourself!

Mike Carmon – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

20:19 Fri Jun 13th

Like the weather, work here at the Mount Washington Observatory is 24/7 365 days a year. To cover every hour of the day the staff on the summit is broken into different shifts to cover the 24 hours of weather observations in addition to the other daily tasks we are responsible for. When one of us get to go on a much deserved vacation that means the rest of the staff is left to fill void of being an observer down. While we do not mind helping fill the void, if the night observer is the one to take vacation that means that one of the two day observers will have to make the radical change of converting to the night shift.

This week, Tom who is our night observer is on vacation, giving me the chance to fill in for him on the night shift. It has been a fun few days learning the nightly duties that Tom does, and that I normally take for granite. It has also been nice to forecast again for the morning radio shows, we participate in daily. The only thing I have had a struggle with is adjusting to the nocturnal schedule of the night shift. While I am enjoying my week on the night shift, I will not give Tom a fight for his job when he returns next shift.

Michael Kyle – Weather Observer

07:35 Fri Jun 13th

photo - see caption below

To say things are busy right now at the Observatory is an understatement! We just completed installing a complete solar array on the roof of the Weather Discovery Center, the new Extreme Mount Washington Museum has reached the day of it's grand opening, and we will be premiering a brand new website this summer. But that's not all!

We are so fortunate to have many media requests from Quebec to Boston that want to come to the summit and tell their viewers about Extreme Mount Washington. I spent all day Monday with Nick Borelli from WCAX who will air a few stories about the Observatory next week. On Tuesday, we had the longest running research project to happen on the summit return! From 1955 through 2006, UNH measured cosmic ray flux on the summit with the Observatory. With the help of Berlin High School, they brought their new instrument enclosure to the summit so their research can return once again this summer.

Speaking of this summer, have you signed up to participate in our biggest fundraiser yet? Seek the Peak, the Mount Washington Observatory's annual fundraiser, is coming up on July 18th-19th, so head over to the website and register now to help in funding our cause! We truly appreciate your fundraising efforts and support!

Cyrena Briede – Director of Summit Operations

18:08 Wed Jun 11th

Living on the summit guarantees that you will meet a wide range of people with unique personalities. I am just starting the second work week of my internship and I have already seen many individuals at the summit with differing ethnic backgrounds and areas of interest. The observatory itself draws individuals for many different reasons.

One of the groups that frequent the summit are hikers. The Appalachian Trail runs through the White Mountains and crosses the summit and offers the chance for hikers to experience the views of the highest mountain in the Northeast. On a clear day from the weather room you can watch thru-hikers descend Mt. Washington as they continue their journey. In the distance we can also see people ascend Mt. Clay as they begin a trek into the heart of the presidential range. Many day hikers also frequent the museum before they begin their hike or after it ends.

Giving tours at the observatory allows us to meet some of these people before they leave. Today Brett and I gave a tour to a group of staff of the Appalachian Mountain Club who perform work based out of the Joe Dodge Camp in Pinkham Notch. Sharing work experiences gives a broader sense of how all of the entities in the White Mountains work together.

Maybe later on this week we can take a hike to meet the AMC crew working at Lake of the Clouds Hut.

Ethan Wright – Summit Intern

19:48 Tue Jun 10th

As one of the first volunteer docents in the new Extreme Mount Washington exhibit, I've had the opportunity to be living on the summit the last week. I've seen gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, clear days and days of zero visibility, no wind and gusts to 60 mph, and to top it off the incredible experience of seeing the Northern Lights from the summit. But even more importantly, I've witnessed the incredible work that is going on at the Mount Washington Observatory, and the passion and dedication for their work of all those involved with the organization. The observers and interns that I've encountered this week are doing so much more than just recording and reporting weather data, as the educational outreach to schools and other groups, and scientific research are also integral to their work.

During the day I've been busy in the new Extreme Mount Washington housed in the former location of the Observatory's museum. For visitors, the experience starts with an incredible time-lapse video recording that draws you down the stairs. Once in the new area, interactive exhibits introduce visitors to the extreme weather dynamics found on Mount Washington, featuring the work of the observers as they do their jobs in winds often blowing over 100 MPH with wind chills of negative 40 degrees in the winter. The history of the infamous and record 231 MPH winds are told; the Washburn Exhibit is incredible; the first hand stories of mountain rescues are riveting.

Two other exhibits, one on Rime Ice and one on Alpine Flowers have been the topics that I have presented in slideshows throughout each day. They've been very well received, and provided visitors a chance to get a more in depth understanding of the subject matter, as well as to better understand the work of the Observatory.

I've lived in the shadow of Mount Washington for over 40 years, but I end this week with a much better understanding and appreciation for what goes on at the top of the 'Rockpile.' The Extreme Mount Washington experience at the summit and the Discovery Center in North Conway are ways for all to explore what makes Mount Washington such a special and unique place.

Gary MacDonald – Extreme Mount Washington Docent

20:33 Mon Jun 9th

photo - see caption below
Kaitlyn and I pause to look at the storm.

Yesterday, our interns went for a hike to Lakes of the Clouds/Mt. Monroe to visit a new peak and meet our closest neighbors - the Lakes of the Cloud Hut Croo. Today, it was the Observers turn as Weather Observer/Educational Specialist Kaitlyn O'Brien and myself made the quick trek down to the hut. We briefly made introductions and conversation to some of the Croo before we decided to head back to work. As we headed out the hut, fellow Weather Observer Michael Dorfman came across the radio to tell us of a possible thunderstorm heading our way. As we rounded the southern side of the hut to verify what he was seeing, sure enough there was a cumulonimbus cloud with a shaft of rain falling beneath it. We asked for additional information (location, speed, track, height, etc.) and after an educated discussion (sometimes it pays to be a meteorologist), we decided to trail run back to the summit. While there was plenty of rain falling on us the entire time, no lightning ever came about. Now in the shelter of the Observatory and NH State Parks Sherman Adams building we are watching the activity billowing up all around us. So between seeing new faces and interesting weather, it was a great afternoon.

Observer Footnote : A reminder to register for Seek the Peak (seekthepeak.org) our annual fundraiser to support our non-profit Observatory. While the date (July 18-19) is over a month away, it will be here faster than you know it!

Ryan Knapp – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:56 Sun Jun 8th

photo - see caption below
Arielle and I painting the parapet today.

As I sit here contemplating all of the different things I want to fit into this comment, I am enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee. I don't usually drink coffee, but when I do, I prefer it to be due to the result of being tired after waking up in the middle of the night to see the northern lights. Yesterday, we received word about the potential to see these Northern Lights overnight, due to a large coronal mass ejection from the sun, which occurred on June 4th. This was exciting, as the forecast looked to clear during the afternoon and into the overnight hours. Before this amazing event even occurred, I was fortunate enough to see one of the most spectacular sunsets that I have ever seen. This may not have been one of the best sunsets per the full time observers' standards, but for me who is coming up here from Southern Pennsylvania, it was wonderful.

I went to bed with the hopes of being awoken by our night observer with news of the magnificent dancing lights. Sure enough, right after I had begun to enter my REM cycle, he came in and told us to wake up as it was one of the better Auroras that he had seen. I took some time, debating contacts or glasses and then finally, I hustled up to the deck and was blown away by the event that I have longed to see since I was a child.

Today brought more excitement as my fellow intern Arielle and I, applied a fresh coat of paint to the parapet on top of the Observatory. It looks great and I did manage to get the 'majority' of the paint where it was supposed to go, and not on my clothing. Wearing some of this red paint on ourselves, we then set off on a hike down to Lakes of the Clouds and then up to the summit of Mount Monroe. I am happy to inform everyone that I am beginning to acclimate to this shortage of oxygen and I finished the hike, only out of breath for the next twenty minutes!

It has been an exciting week up here thus far and I am starting to worry that this summer may end far too quickly!

Caleb Meute – Summit Intern

11:59 Sat Jun 7th

Week two began with a staff retreat where both shifts and even the valley staff came up to the summit to attend a day-long developmental staff meeting. Even though we are a small non-profit, like any organization, there is always room for improvement. We discovered different ways to communicate as well as when each mode of communication is appropriate. We also learned and practiced these new communication skills through small group discussions. It was an educational and fun experience and I will definitely try to implement the techniques I learned in both my work and personal experiences.

As far as the weather is concerned, I am still amazed by everything. We've been pretty much socked into the fog for the past few days with the winds staying relatively calm until yesterday when they picked up a bit and even gusted to 60mph at 10:25pm last night! This afternoon we will be clearing and temperatures will be warming into the lower 50s! We'll be performing some upkeep duties at the Observatory this afternoon and tonight, so that type of weather will be perfect! Tomorrow looks to be clear with highs back in the 50s. Caleb and I are planning to take advantage of that weather with a hike down the mountain, possibly to Lake of the Clouds.

Arielle Ahrens – Summit Intern

16:42 Fri Jun 6th

photo - see caption below
Not a Bad Office View this Morning

It constantly amazes me how many different instruments we have here on the summit to measure various variables. Here is a brief description of the variables we measure and the instruments we use to measure them.

Wind Sensors: Our primary wind instruments here on the summit consist of a pitot tube anemometer and an alpine RM Young. The pitot tube measures wind speed by measuring the pressure of the wind, and the RM Young measures wind speed and direction with a spinning propeller. We also have a Hydrotek and 3-cup anemometer (both spinning anemometers) along with a Metek Sonic anemometer, which measures the wind (especially low winds) very accurately. In addition to this, we have a wind vane, which tells us wind direction, and we are testing an NRG heated wind direction sensor.

Temperature and Relative Humidity Sensors: Our most precise temperature sensor, the MET-2010 measures temperature very accurately. It measures dew point in a very elegant way-by measuring the reflection of a laser off of a cooled mirror. Once the mirror cools to a certain point, water will condense onto it, decreasing the intensity of the reflected laser. Other temperature and RH sensors we have here on the summit include the Campbell Scientific T-107 thermometer, HMP-45 temperature and RH sensor, and a Foxboro temperature sensor. We also read temperatures for our observations the same way we have for our existence here on the summit; off of alcohol and mercury thermometers.

Pressure sensors: Our official station pressure comes from Coastal Environmental System's 'PDB-1' pressure sensor. We compare this to our outdoor barograph every 3 hours to assure its accuracy. We also house the second oldest barometer in use in the country, which we use to calibrate the barograph. This mercury barometer is extremely accurate and retains its accuracy much longer than most digital pressure sensors. In addition to these sensors, we have another digital barometer housed on the top of our tower.

Precipitation sensors: Although we have a precipitation sensor at our Auto Road Base remote station, we measure precipitation here on the summit the same way we have for over 80 years-with a can and a nipher screen to help minimize the effects of wind on precipitation.

Ceilometers: Located at the Cog Base and the Auto Road base, we use these to determine cloud height. They are basically large invisible lasers that shoot straight up to determine the distance between the ground and the cloud bases. These are extremely helpful as we report cloud heights on an hourly basis.

Electromagnetic Field Detectors: In simple words this is a lightning detector. In previous years, it has been mounted on the roof of the Sherman Adams building to give observers a better idea as to when it is safe to venture outside to take an observation.

Ice detector: Mount Washington is famous for its rime ice, which is formed from supercooled fog freezing on surfaces on the summit. We are lucky to be working together with CRREL on a project which analyzed cloud droplet size distribution. For this project, we need to know the rate of icing. The ice detector mounted on the tower contains a small metal piece which vibrates at an extremely high rate. Its vibration slows down as ice accrues on it and once a certain amount of ice builds up on the instrument it heats up very quickly, melting the small amount of rime off of it and starting the process over.

Observer Footnote A reminder to register for Seek the Peak (http://seekthepeak.org/) our annual fundraiser to support our non-profit Observatory. While the date (July 18-19) is over a month away, it will be here faster than you know it!

Mike Dorfman – Weather Observer

16:32 Thu Jun 5th

photo - see caption below
View of the Summit from Boott Spur Trail

I can't believe it's already June! It's amazing how quickly the time passes, especially when off-weeks overlap between months. I was fortunate enough to take advantage of the beautiful weather this past off-week and enjoyed a great hike with my friend Ashley. Speaking of hiking - after looking at the calendar today, I noticed we're getting closer and closer to our 14th Annual Seek the Peak Hike-a-thon event on July 19! If you enjoy spending time outdoors and hiking for a great cause, we need you! Participating in Seek the Peak is a fantastic way to get your hiking fix while simultaneously supporting the Mount Washington Observatory. If that isn't enough motivation, you may also be interested to hear that there are several awesome prizes involved! If you'd like to sign up for this event, simply visit www.seekthepeak.org for more information on how to participate. If you click 'Prizes' on the left-hand side, you'll get a sneak peek of what's up for grabs! Phew, sneak peeks for Seek the Peak; now that's a tongue twister! Happy hiking!

Kaitlyn O`Brien – Weather Observer/Education Specialist

00:44 Thu Jun 5th

It is great to be back! As much as I enjoy the shores of Rhode Island, I found I can't wait to return to the summit. This is truly a magical place.

Whahoo!!!! The new summit museum experience opened Saturday to the public and as we could hear the 'toot-toot 'of the Cog, we eagerly waited to show off Extreme Mount Washington. I must say it is pretty impressive. Kudos to Mystic who worked day and night to get it up and running. Insomuch that the truck driver who brought up the museum exhibits was caught in a mild late season snow storm and could not leave. Welcome to Mount Washington.

Jan Berriochoa – Summit Museum Attendant

18:29 Tue Jun 3rd

photo - see caption below
Nice Sunrise This Morning, T-Storms This Evening?

Waking up this afternoon (being the night observer) I was greeted with sight of a line of thunderstorms on radar approaching from the west, with some of the tops of these storms already seen with the naked eye about 100 miles away. Having spent two previous summer seasons on the summit, I am no stranger to thunderstorms up here and am excited to see what this summer may have in store. Some of the most exciting weather events I have seen here have been thunderstorms, with 2 separate events both having winds gusts in excess of 100 mph and up to quarter-size hail, along with plenty of lightning. One storm back in 2011 had hail fall for over 40 minutes straight on the summit, with the hail accumulating to several inches, creating a winter-like scene during the middle of summer.

This evening a line of storms currently crossing the Green Mountains of Vermont will reach our area, with a few thunderstorms and a period of heavy rain likely. An isolated severe thunderstorm, with gusty winds and small hail, is not out of the question this evening, with a few warned storms currently over the southern part of the line segment near the Albany, New York area. The storms may weaken slightly as they move across Vermont, but if they hold together it could be an interesting night!

Tom Padham – Weather Observer/Meteorologist

18:06 Mon Jun 2nd

After several shifts of rocky unsettled weather on the summit, this week has finally broken that trend. For the past 48 hours the summit has been in the clear with no precipitation. Visibilities were reaching 85 plus miles yesterday, and even though visibility has dropped slight today it has still been 65 miles or greater. Best of all though; temperatures on the summit have been trending above average. Even pushing into the lower 60's for a stretch during the afternoon today.

Like Brett mentioned yesterday this weather is too nice not to take advantage of. So in addition to doing some outdoor tasks, I was able to get in a little bit of hiking after work. After a long winter and a busy start to spring, it was nice to get back out on the trails. Plus it gave me a chance to plan my route for seek the peek this year!

Michael Kyle – Weather Observer

16:23 Sun Jun 1st

photo - see caption below
Looks Much Better!

The summit is in full swing now with many filing up the Auto Road and even the COG Railway. We ended up with a beautiful day today with very few clouds. It's great to see the many visitors enjoying the sights, including our new interactive museum that gives the public an idea what the observers do up here. Our lead meteorology cat, Marty has been hard at work outside taking observations and scoping the nice weather we have today. Ethan and I have been taking advantage of the pleasant weather by doing some outside duties such as touching up our thermoshack!

Brett Rossio – Summit Intern

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 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