A ‘Shift’ from Winter to Summer.

2012-05-23 20:39:12.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Sunset on a summer-esque day (today).

When we came up to start our last shift on May 9th, it was still cold and snowing. Rime and glaze ice coated everything. As a result (although not completely necessary), we put chains on our 4×4 van at ‘halfway’. The building was closed. Our gift shop was empty and was still acting as the exercise room. The road was open, but only to halfway since work was still needed above this point. The summit landscape was a blank, white slate with only a small handful of adventurous and bundled up hikers seen the entire day. And while we all knew ‘summer’ was on its way, it still felt like winter.

Now, you may have noticed that I only listed two seasons there – summer and winter. It’s not that I have a bias or hate spring or fall; not by any means. But up here on the summit, it always seems that there are only two seasons or should I say, states of mind – that of summer and that of winter. Summer is when it gets ‘warm’, the building is open, the road is open, the cog is operating, people are hiking up in the masses, vegetation greens up, flowers bloom, the fox only comes in the evening/night, birds come up, bugs come up, and our visibility is drastically reduced (among several other things I could list). Winter is when it gets cold, the building is closed, the road is closed, the cog stops operating to the summit, fewer people are hiking up, the vegetation becomes brown and eventually covered with snow, the fox comes up only on occasion, the only remaining birds are the big, black ravens, bugs die off, and our visibility expands to 130 miles frequently (again, among several other things I could list). As far as the weather goes, spring and fall just kind of meld into the summer and winter as one day it will be 40s and clear followed by 20s and foggy – that’s our spring and fall. There is no gradual change over like you see in the valleys.

So as we came up today the 23rd of May, our summer frame of mind returned. It was warm and partly sunny. The ground was bare. The van remained in 2 wheel drive all the way up and my passengers hinted more than once to slow down a bit – with me reminding them that I have done the road enough times to know what I was doing. The building is open. The road is open to the top. Our gift shop is fully stocked and open with the exercise equipment moved back upstairs. The landscape was showing hints of green interspersed with rocks and the sea of brown; with even a few flowers seen sprouting around 4000 feet. And hikers were arriving in droves. So, ‘summer’ (or at least our summer frame of mind) is officially back. But that’s just for today, the weather can still swing back to winter especially considering that we should be averaging 38F, have seen record lows in the single digits, and can see upwards of a foot of snow in this month. And technically the calendar still reads spring. And one just needs to look back at June of last year to see that we received measurable snow all the way into that first week of June. So, while it is ‘summer’ today, tomorrow is another day… (Although, the good news it so far it is looking like another fair day.)


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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