April: In Like a Lion
2017-04-08 15:13:19.000 – Mike Carmon, Senior Weather Observer & Education Specialist
April 2017 has already seemed to signal its intentions of going down a snow-covered path. Although most folks have immersed themselves in spring fever by the time we turn the calendar to April, up here on Mount Washington’s summit, we must hold back on those balmier thoughts for a little while longer. On average, the month of April harbors 35.6″ of snowfall at the rocky top of New England, with daily average temperatures still suppressed in the 20s for a large chunk of the month.
We’re certainly on the path to reaching the snowfall average figure this year: as of 2PM EDT this afternoon, summit meteorologists have recorded a total of 25.6″ of snowfall only 8 days into the month–exactly 10 inches shy of the monthly average. Nearly nine inches of that snow has come in the last 24 hours, and has brought a return of impressive drifting of snow, one of which is pictured below with its enthusiastic discoverer Adam Gill.
In the days prior to this latest snowfall event, we found ourselves combatting a significant ice storm. While most valley locations were enduring the proverbial April showers, summit air temperatures lingering just shy of the freezing mark prompted that falling liquid precipitation to freeze on all surfaces on the Rockpile—instrumentation, decking, windows, rocks, and even outdoor-venturing observers. The accrual of ice was substantial and troublesome, leading to a laborious dig- and thaw- out yesterday, in advance of the current snowstorm gripping the higher elevations.
The winds of change are on the immediate horizon, however, as a strong high pressure system harboring the warmest air mass of the season to date is forecasted to build into the Northeast U.S. tonight and tomorrow. The result will be an abrupt and considerable warm-up across the White Mountains, including our mountain’s summit. The mercury will likely skyrocket well into the 40s by Monday and Tuesday, which will have an enormous effect on the bountiful snow and ice we’ve accrued throughout the prior three days. It can be quite astounding how speedily a sizeable snow pack can disintegrate after only a few days of warmer temperatures. We’re expecting a much more summery-looking Mount Washington’s summit by the conclusion of Tuesday.
Thereafter, well, the lion looks to make a return.
Mike Carmon, Senior Weather Observer & Education Specialist