Best Day Ever, Part 4: First 120+ mph Wind Experience
2017-11-08 12:08:21.000 – Adam Gill, Weather Observer/ IT Specialist
I’ve had quite a few days that have been very exciting up here on the summit over the last few years. I remember most days where we have gotten over 120 mph, but the day I first experienced it as an intern was the most memorable. It was on October 30th, 2015 when we had the remnant low of Hurricane Patricia pass near the summit. The high winds caught us off guard because the forecast only had gusts up to 110 mph since the 850 mb level (5000ft in the atmosphere) winds were not too terribly high. Shortly after getting up to the weather room at 6 AM, we had our first gust over 100: we had hit 101 mph. After that, the winds were trending down and at the time I was disappointed that we didn’t get to 110 mph as predicted. At 7 AM, I had to read the AMC forecast over the radio and of course, the winds were going back up and I could hear the gusts hitting the building but I could not get up to see what we were hitting. I rushed through reading the forecast and was finally able to check out the Hays Chart to see what the wind gusts were. We were getting over 6 inches of water on the Hays, which equates to gusts to 110 mph! I was ecstatic that we were getting the forecasted gusts! I rushed outside and as soon as I rounded the corner of the building I got knocked off of my feet and had to crawl my way back to the door.
I could not play outside in the winds too long because we had another radio show to finish up. I was ok with it at the time because once again the winds were on a downward trend. However, while I was in the radio room around 7:45 AM, there was a sudden roar! Luckily the radio show had not started yet so I ran back over to the Hays Chart and we had hit 121 mph! Now the winds had really ramped back up, and we were getting consistent gusts over 115 mph with intermittent gusts to the low 120’s. Luckily the second radio show lasted only a couple of minutes, so as soon as it was done, all the observers and I dressed up to head outside and try our luck at the century club with winds sustained at 105 mph and gusts up to 122 mph. As soon as I got onto the deck and out of the sheltered area, I got knocked down again, resulting in a failed attempt. One of the other Observers, Mike Kyle, was able to successfully complete the walk around the deck and be admitted into the club. We all stayed outside for about 10 additional minutes, at which point we became all too exhausted to try and battle the winds anymore.
Once back inside, I checked what the highest gusts we experienced while outside, and that was 123 mph! That ended up being the peak gust of the day as winds quickly diminished back down to just barely hurricane force gusts. I learned a lot of lessons that day, like how strong 100 mph winds truly are and how good of a leg workout it is to try and stay standing, much less walk with winds that high.
Since then, I have experienced winds much higher than that with almost equally exciting days. The Pi Day Blizzard earlier this year that Mike talked about is a close second for me due to how loud the sound of the winds got inside the building, as well as being able to feel the floor shake in the stronger gusts. This past weekend, on October 30th, I came up off-shift and experienced winds up to 133 mph. That was definitely the warmest I have ever seen it up here with high winds, as usually it is quite cold during high wind events!
Adam Gill, Weather Observer/ IT Specialist