beautiful weather, starry nights, lightning

2008-08-25 10:09:44.000 – Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Intern

Sunrise from the Gulfside Trail

The weather this shift has been absolutely beautiful, and that trend continued yesterday with temperatures around 60, light winds, and plentiful sun. The summit was easily mistaken for a beach as visitors lounged around on the rocks and picnicked on the observation deck. Lucky weekend visitors were presented with 50 mile views and some nifty convective clouds as the day progressed. I got out for a few hours to hike in the afternoon, visiting Lion Head and Lakes of the Clouds. Sunset was a bit lackluster because of too many clouds on the horizon, but the past few days have spoiled me just a bit on sunsets.n

nIn addition to the daytime views, the night sky has been spectacular. On Friday night, we brought a telescope out onto the deck and did that other kind of observation – of the stars. The temperature was in the mid 60s and there was no wind, so I ended up spending about a half an hour lying on the deck looking at the sky. We are above 20% of the atmosphere, which means there’s less atmosphere to see through, so we can see more stars than I have ever seen from sea level. The milky way is clearly visible, and I saw 5 or 6 shooting stars a few satellites. All week I have been wondering what we did to deserve this beautiful clear weather – perhaps mother nature is finally paying us back for the 3 months of fog we endured the rest of the summer.n

nLast night was spectacular in a different way. The stars were more dimly visible because of hazy air, but along the horizon to the west we could see flashes of lightning as often as 5 or 10 times a minute. The flashes appeared to burst upward from the horizon, lighting up the clouds for a split second. I was surprised to see lightning because there was no chance of thunderstorms in the forecast. However, I looked at the radar and found that the approaching cold front was causing thunderstorms as it moved across western New York. The lightning ranged from 140 to 170 miles away, which is quite a distance to see on such a hazy night.n

nToday the summit is taking a brief hiatus from high pressure as the cold front passes through the area. Low pressure engulfed the summit in fog over night and the front brought a few rain showers. I was startled by gusty winds and dripping fog as I walked out the door this morning to get the precip can – quite a change from last night. I’m not too upset about the fog, however, because high pressure is predicted to build again tomorrow. Don’t pack your beach towel yet, though, because temperatures are expected to hover near freezing and winds will be chilly. As with last Wednesday, fall is nipping at the heels of summer as we approach the end of August.


Jeff Wehrwein,  Summit Intern

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