Back to normal…

2007-02-18 11:00:05.000 – Brent Antkowiak,  Summit Intern

The failure point…

The big story on the summit this morning is that the primary pitot tube anemometer is back online after yesterday’s short outage! After some intense, un-routine maintenance Friday evening and yesterday morning, the crew cleared the pitot around 9:45 a.m., and we have since been logging wind data as normal.

The problem occurred in the skirt of the pitot tube’s vane, which had somehow become iced up despite extreme heating in the instrument. Luckily, this occurred at the end of our most recent cold outbreak, with temperatures well below zero and winds gusting over 100mph when the blockage occurred. The moderation in temperatures and lessening of winds over the past day and a half gave the crew a great chance to get things reinstated, dried out, and ready for the next storm.

One of the challenges of having the primary pitot systems offline was that for the continuity of the primary database, every three hours someone from the crew had to hold the backup pitot on the tower for about 5 minutes, as high as possible, as seen in yesterday’s picture. This also ensures an accurate reading for the barometer. One of my shifts to tackle this job happened to be at 12:45 am , which was quite an experience, in the dark, as the winds gusted to 106 mph. After 5 minutes of holding the pitot on the tower, there was already a thin layer of ice on the tip of the tube. It was amazing to see how fast an unheated instrument began to form rime ice on it! And it lets you realize how much the primary pitot is up against!

With normal routines restored, today we are hoping for a few breaks in the clouds here on the summit, as temperatures are mild, and winds have dropped off significantly. It would be a good day to get out and enjoy the views from the summit, if only those pesky clouds would dissipate for a few hours!


Brent Antkowiak,  Summit Intern

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