All About Data

2018-05-21 15:54:57.000 – Taylor Regan, Weather Observer

 

This past fall, the Mount Washington Observatory celebrated its 85th Anniversary, which, in terms of mountaintop weather stations, is kind of a big deal! And while the faces representing the Observatory have come and gone over the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is our efforts to collect and maintain a continuous series of weather observations, documenting the volatile weather conditions atop this storied mount.

Stage OfficeFigure 1. Mt. Washington Stage Office, Original Site of Mt. Washington Observatory

On the summit proper, we collect a variety of data at each of our hourly weather observations, consisting of temperature, wind speed, precipitation, pressure, cloud heights and types, just to name a few variables. Off of the direct summit, we also maintain a mesonet system of 20 remote weather stations that are spread out though the White Mountains. All of this data is not only used in-house to produce our twice-daily higher summits forecast, but also sent in to the National Weather Service for incorporation into global forecasting models. In addition to providing the higher summits forecast on our website, an audio version is disseminated through local radio programs twice daily, as well as through White Mountain TV on weekends. For those interested in research, our high resolution data is available through data requests submitted to our webpage at mountwashington.org. We also maintain a current conditions page on our website where hikers and weather enthusiasts of all kinds can check out what is happening in real-time on the summit!

mesonetFigure 2. Map Displaying Several Mesonet Sites

I mentioned briefly a summary of the data that we collect, but you might be wondering, why is all this data important? Well for one (and I don’t think I’m too biased here…) the summit of Mount Washington is an extremely interesting place! We are the only weather station in the northeastern United States providing continuous weather data at this elevation…think of us as a stationary weather balloon continuously sampling the atmosphere! With weather data going back to 1932, we have the longest standing climate record of any high elevation site in the United States, which provides an immense library of past events to study. On a serious note, Mount Washington is one of the most dangerous small mountains on Earth. Its proximity to several large cities and comparatively unassuming elevation make it a frequently visited peak. Our forecast information is vital to the safety and well-being of the roughly 350,000 visitors the summit sees each year.

Stairs and sun pillarFigure 3. Stairs to the Summit with Sunrise

All of this data is collected and maintained by the staff of the Mount Washington Observatory, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining a comprehensive data record of the weather atop the tallest peak in the northeast. If you would like to support the organization in any way, consider becoming a member!

 

Taylor Regan, Weather Observer

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