An active night for the finer things in life.

2007-07-21 23:31:25.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Meteorologist


“Don’t you ever get bored or lonely working nights?” This was raised by a visitor to the summit today about my twilight shift here at the observatory. The short answer is no. To best summarize why I feel this way, I will use a quote by one of my American Studies professors when I was in college: “There is never nothing going on.” Take a minute and let that sink in before continuing.

So you’re your thinking, “Well that’s easy for you to say because you live at a location with constantly changing weather.” Well, that is partly true, but we sometimes have stagnant weather days/nights when I have to look at the finer things in life to find things going on. To give you an idea of what I mean, here is five minutes of events I witnessed between 2345 and 2350 EDT tonight while taking a typical weather observation.

As I step out the door, I am met with a “breeze” of 17 mph which hums in different tones as it rushes past my ear. The kind of hum you would do as a child playing by yourself in the sandbox. The bricks on the deck sparkle and shine from the bits of pyrite embedded in them making the deck look like a giant gem. Each brick makes a different thump, thud, and scrape as I walk across them like the beating of a giant drum set in tune with the beating of my heart. The power generators create a constant background noise that generates a Doppler-effect as I walk from one side of the deck to the other. The lights in the valleys below glimmer like they are sending up some sort of exotic Morris Code trying to vie for my attention as I make my way around the deck. A yellow rope tied on our observation deck keeps visitors away from sensitive equipment during the day, but tonight, each section seems to be dancing as they dip, dive, and flail about in the winds. Are they possible hearing the hum I am hearing and jiving to it? A mouse scampers across the deck. Is he in search of food, shelter, or both? Whatever he is doing, is he looking at me and thinking the same thing? Somewhere on the summit, a loose piece of equipment bangs against steel lightly like someone tapping a glass with a fork for your undivided attention at a wedding. A red light behind the door shines through the glass providing a dash of color to a pallet of black, white, and yellows. As I step up to go back in, our wooden step creaks as if it were saying “Hey.” In which I feel like replying “Hey. Just heading back in from my weather observation. See you in an hour.”

So this is an example of some of the things that occupy my wandering mind at night. It is the little things in life that can be the most entertaining. So the next time you are stuck in traffic, going up an elevator, working in your yard, or climbing the mountain next weekend in the Seek-the-Peak event, step back and look at what is going on in the world around you. You will be surprised at what you observe and what you may have been missing because there is always something going on.


Ryan Knapp,  Meteorologist

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