Another One For the Record Books

2018-02-21 21:37:11.000 – Caleb Meute, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist


Well the summit won’t be receiving a gold medal for this record, but we are happy to announce that we have officially set a new daily record high, set a new monthly record high for February, and have tied the meteorological winter record high! We would like to thank our friends, families, thermometers and members who have encouraged us on our journey to 48°F in February. Can you tell that I have been stuck at home and watching a lot of Olympics this past week? The previous monthly record was set all the way back on February 20, 2018 when the mercury soared to 45°F. Prior to yesterday, the high temperature record was 43°F which was set February 12, 1999. You can say goodbye to those records! You can also say goodbye to the snowpack on the summit… It is important to note that these records are based off of our 85 year dataset going back to 1932. Meteorological winter assumes the three months of December, January and February.
Today was shift change for the Observatory and New Hampshire State Parks with the crews setting out in the morning to ascend the Mount Washington Auto Road. Typically in February, the road is covered in many feet of snow and the Snowcat encounters massive drifts on the way to the summit. As you may have guessed, today was a different journey for everyone. Personally, I was not a part of the change because I am still hunkered down in Burlington, (VT) preparing myself to return next week. After speaking with my fellow Observers however, today’s issue was deep slush and mud which made the trip awfully slow-going at times.
New Hampshire State Park snowcat being followed by MWO snowcatNHSP leading the way up slushy road conditions
It was an unseasonably warm stretch of weather throughout the White Mountains Region, and all of the eastern seaboard for that matter, with high temperature records being set all over. Here in Burlington, Vermont the mercury climbed to 69 degrees which beat the daily record by ten degrees (previous record: 59°F, 1981)! As you might imagine, this unseasonably warm and rainy stretch is creating issues across the region when it comes to flooding. Snowmelt from the mountains has combined with rainfall and ice jams to create widespread flooding. From rivers across New England down through the Ohio Valley, where a tremendous amount of rain has fallen and continues to fall; the water is raging! When one side of the country experiences record warmth, you can expect the opposite side to experience… Well the opposite. While we are setting high temperature records, areas out west are breaking record low temperatures. The culprit is many thousand feet above the surface where the jet stream is quite erratic, with a massive dipping trough out west and then a bulging ridge centered here over the eastern seaboard. This ridge has allowed the unseasonable warmth to surge northward into New England, melting Frosty’s Gang of Snowmen and sending your local snowball fight club reeling into Canada.
If you are like me, you almost put the air conditioner on today, but then you remembered that you do not even have air conditioning. If you have it, keep it off… It is about to get cold again. In fact, the temperature on the summit has fallen swiftly since the record was set earlier today and it is currently sitting below the freezing mark. Luckily Tom and Taylor were able to take advantage of the momentary T-shirt weather, but I have a feeling they will be putting their Eastern Mountain Sports Gear back on for the days to come.
Tom and Taylor in t-shirts on record February warmth dayTodays short-sleeve weather
As American Swimmer Mark Spitz said, “Life is true to form, records are meant to be broken”. Here at the Observatory, we take this to heart and we will not stop observing and recording records as they occur, cold or warm. “One of these days, we WILL take back our high wind speed record”. You can quote me on that… (Meute, 2018).


Caleb Meute, Weather Observer/Staff Meteorologist

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