Big Wind Day

2012-04-12 18:43:46.000 – Brian Clark,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist


I would be remiss in writing today’s comment about anything other than the single event that was, without a doubt, the most important in the history of Mount Washington Observatory: The Big Wind. Today is, of course, the anniversary of The Big Wind, which is how we affectionately refer to the highest wind speed that we have ever recorded here on Mount Washington. April 12, 1934 was the date, and 231 miles per hour was the wind speed.

If you follow Mount Washington related news at all, then you know that the Big Wind used to be recognized as the highest wind speed recorded anywhere on Earth, at the surface (yes, a mountain is the surface of the Earth). A couple years ago, we received news that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) verified a wind speed of 253 miles per hour, that occurred off the coast of Australia back in 1996 during a tropical cyclone. While, as an organization, we take issue with a few of the details surrounding the verification of that event, we have no choice but to respect and acknowledge the findings of the WMO. There are lots of folks at the WMO that know a whole lot more about meteorology than we do.

At the same time, we continue to recognize one huge difference between the events: the human aspect. I have had the privilege during my last 5 years with the Observatory to become very familiar with The Big Wind and the events surrounding it. Something that has never ceased to amaze me is the dedication of the summit crew that made the measurement of The Big Wind possible. Without that dedication, this wind speed may not have been measured, and then who knows how different our organization would be if that were the case.

In the end, we had actual people here on Mount Washington that measured The Big Wind. On Barrow Island, off the coast of Australia, not a soul was there to witness the current world record wind speed. Thankfully, nothing can ever take that difference away from us!

P.S. Want to share Big Wind Day with others? Believe it or not, there are actually electronic greeting cards out there for Big Wind Day. electronic greeting cards out there for Big Wind Day


Brian Clark,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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