2009-12-20 22:28:09.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Sunset number x of y.

I love December! First, it’s just a merry month all around. Regardless of your beliefs, people I know just seem to be in a good mood despite what seems to be the news’ constant negative spin on everything. I don’t know, maybe its the sights of the lights, the smell of pine trees in neighboring tree lots, the smell of gingerbread houses and sugar cookies, the warmth of being in doors while its snowing, visiting with family and friends or just helping our fellow man by throwing some spare change in the little red pot as you exit your local grocer. And while it might not have all the glitz and glitter it once had when I was a kid, it still holds some other things for me to look forward to.

It marks the official start of winter tomorrow, December 21, 2009 (even though the summit starts ours in October). And with the start of winter, it also means that at 17:47 UTC, the winter solstice will be celebrated meaning that the days will start to get longer after this time. Working nights, I am used to working in the dark but during this time of year, it means both shifts (day and night) start in the dark and end in the dark. On our shift, we work a 0530 EST to 1730 EST day shift and 1730 EST to 0530 EST night shift and with the sun rising after 0700 EST and setting shortly after 1600 EST, you can see how darkness bookends both shifts. It’s not too bad for the day shift to get out and do some hiking/skiing/work but if I want/need to do anything in the daylight, it means I have to get up earlier than I would like. So, I am looking forward to the daylight extending in the coming months.

December also marks my anniversary for starting at the Observatory. On December 27, 2005, I stepped off the plane on the east coast for the first time in my life and after a delayed pick up of my car, I started heading north. Thinking that the I-93 exit numbering system was done by miles like it is out west, I thought I only had to drive a half hour north out of Manchester. Hours later though, I finally arrived at former observer Jim Salges house (nicknamed ‘The Jackson Hole’ I later found out) and crashed on his couch. The next day, December 28, 2005, I rode the Bombardier tractor up for the first time and arrived at a place that seemed like a distant moon some 3000 miles from my former comfort zone of the west coast. And so began my internship that eventually melded into an observer position and finally the staff meteorologist position over the years. And now this distant moon feels more like home than my actual home in Berlin, NH considering I spend over half of the year up here.

And this December holds one more monument for me dealing with the number 100. But let me keep you guessing as to what 100 I am talking about since the summit is full of them. Does December hold the first day I experienced 100 mph winds? No. Does it mark the highest 100 mph winds I have ever felt? No. Does it mark the day I entered the century club? No. Did I meet my 100th hiking/edutrip since being here? No. Did I just finish my 100th Obscast? No, but on the right track. Did I write my 100th forecast? No, but getting hotter. Will this comment posting by my 100th? Yes, this comment you are reading is my 100th comment since starting here.

Unfortunately, when we upgraded out website back in February 2006, it meant pervious comments became unavailable. Worry not, we still have them archived but this means that you can’t go back and read my first posting on January 1, 2006 or my second on February 12, 2006. But the other 98 comments are all available for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure). So here is what I wrote about in my very first comment:

The year 2005 is now a part of the history books and 2006 has arrived. The last day of 2005 started out beautifully. The sun shown through an overcast sky of high cirrus clouds with practically an infinite view in all directions. The summit was crawling with birds, a fox, and people, the most activity I have witnessed since starting my internship at the summit Wednesday. As the day came to a close, the summit started to receive a light dusting of fresh fluffy snow with low winds. Although it was obscuring our horizontal views, the views into the valleys below remained for the start of the night.

The valley views allowed people to anticipate a fireworks show in North Conway but unfortunately the fog started to roll in obscuring our view of the distant show. But the night was not completely uneventful; Tim called down to ask Jim if a bon fire was a yearly event by Bretton Woods?!?! With binoculars, we noticed a swarm of flashing lights, and soon learned that the Bretton Motor Lodge was ablaze! We have since learned that everyone made it out okay. The Edu-Trip up on the summit with us were the unfortunate witnesses of the fire, and captured a few photos for the website.

As the year 2005 came to a close, a handful of people on the summit made it all the way to midnight and ushered in the New Year. The time came and the time passed with nothing too eventful. The first day of 2006 is obscured in fog with low winds. Everything on the summit is covered in a thin layer of frost giving a crisp coating of white. Although the eerily calm makes for a beautiful site, as the new intern, I am hoping that the Worst Weather in the World returns to the summit soon.

Ryan Knapp – Intern

So there you have it a glimpse back at my time here and a picture of what was going on around the summit on New Years 2006. The observers and interns since that writing have changed. The number of observers on each shift has changed. The living quarters have changed. The way the summit gets power has changed. The way we dispose of sewage has changed. The technology has changed (remember CRT monitors and TV’s?). The Bombardier tractor has changed. Some of the weather procedures have changed. The way we stay connected with our members has changed (Obscasts, forums, facebook, etc). The size of Seek the Peak has changed. The museum and gift shop have changed both on the summit and in the valley. And as a result of all of these changes, even I have changed. But the one thing that has remained unchanged in all this time is the weather. It’s why I’m here, why the observatory is here, and probably why you are all here reading this. So here’s to another winter, another year at the observatory, another 100 observer comments, the weather for keeping my interest in staying here, and to our members who make all these milestones possible for me and all the observers up here over the years.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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