A Buffet of Weather

2012-04-30 19:28:20.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Sunrise today- it’s colder/windier than it appears

Since we live on the summit for a week at a time, this means we have to pack clothes for a week at a time. In the winter, it’s easy to pack because you know it’s going to be typically cold and snowy. In summer, it’s easy to pack because it’s going to be generally cool or warm and wet. But as we transition in spring and fall, it’s a whole other story at times as we find ourselves packing everything we have due to the variability of the weather. These shoulder seasons bring a huge and variable buffet of weather each week. Not the kind of buffet you’d see at a barn dance or other social gathering. No, I’m talking more like a buffet like you’d see in Las Vegas where you need a map just to get around. The kind of buffet that when you return to your seat, your plate is loaded with a hot dog, fried rice, yellow curry, a taco, a brownie and a salad (just to stay “healthy); a combination that you would never usually want to think about and will learn to regret later that night or the next day. That kind of buffet. Only instead of a wild combination of food, our buffet is a wild combination of weather.

If we were to put all our weather on a metaphorical plate we would see a pile of snow and sleet next to a small serving of rain topped with a bit of glaze ice. Next to that would a large serving of fog mixing in with clouds with a small sample of sunshine on the side. We would find most of our servings are served cold as they were provided when temperatures were in the single digits but some parts of the plate have been warmed to just above freezing for good measure. On a portion of the plate, we have things mixing as a serving of winds over 90 mph swirls next to a small portion of calm winds. And lastly, you find everything coated with blowing snow, just “because”.

Alright, so maybe it’s not the best analogy, but hopefully you get the general picture of the large mix of weather we see during a spring/fall week; it’s a bizarre mix of everything you can pretty much think of. As a result, we have to pack for a mix of everything. So this means pretty much every single item I have in my converted toy box (where I store my summit gear during off weeks) makes its way up: rain pants, snow pants, zip-off pants, long sleeve shirts, t-shirts, thin socks, thick socks, hats, gloves, clear goggles, tinted goggles, thick jackets, wind breakers, varying thicknesses of gloves, long underwear, face masks, sun glasses, and so on and so forth. On Tuesday night, I look at the various weather models then lay our all of my needed gear before packing so I know how to pack it all up efficiently in my backpack. It is very reminiscent of the scene in the Vin Diesel action flick “XXX” where there is an array of weapons laid out on the ground next to a Pontiac GTO and he states “All of that (referring to the weapons), in here (pointing to the GTO)”. Only, in my case, my “weapons” are the “weapons” against the elements of weather not evil, my transportation device is a backpack, not a car and the person I am saying that line to isn’t a weapons tech, it’s just myself, and silently in my head. While it is a lot of gear that needs some creative packing at times, in the end, all my gear makes its way up. And no matter what weird combination we are provided in regards to the weather buffet know as spring, I am at the ready with a counter offensive so I can continue to do my job successfully.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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