Casey’s first week on the summit!

2008-11-17 16:33:40.000 – Casey Taylor,  Outreach Educator

First (and only) sunset

Having worked with the Appalachian Mountain Club at Pinkham Notch for much of the past year, I had grown accustomed to Mount Washington being a part of daily life. I would wake up every morning and would immediately check to see what the weather on the summit was, and would constantly explain to school groups about the extreme weather found “on the rockpile.” Now, as the new Outreach Educator for the Observatory, I have been lucky enough to gain a new perspective on the mountain that had become so familiar—spending a week on the summit to shadow the observers and learn even more about Mount Washington weather.

It seems that I managed to make it up here for quite a special week. When we first arrived on Wednesday morning (after a somewhat unnerving ride up the Mt. Washington Auto Road), there was an undercast surrounding the summit, with just a few of the higher peaks poking through the clouds. There was also a decent amount of snow, which put a quick end to our plan for an afternoon hike to Lakes of the Clouds. My favorite moment came later that evening when we all went outside for the sunset. Aside from the beautiful sunset itself, what will live in my memory was the view of the northern Presidentials. The undercast was still there, but was beginning to dissipate. There was a large amount of clouds creeping up the west sides of the peaks, but it was entirely clear on their northeastern faces, providing a clear view of the Great Gulf wilderness bathed in a pinkish-gray glow. This was the most startlingly beautiful event that I had ever witnessed, and was certainly a great welcome for my week with the summit crew.

The wintry weather was not to last long, however. Temperatures quickly rose and soon all the snow was melted away, leaving instead a constant blanket of thick fog. On Saturday, as it has already been mentioned in an earlier comment, we even broke the record high with a balmy 48ºF. Sunday, with the passage of a cold front, gave testament to how quickly weather can change in the mountains. Not only did temperatures drop to the mid-teens, but winds picked up and we broke the 100mph mark several times throughout the afternoon and evening. And so I was given my introduction to de-icing the instrument tower and the difficulty of walking in winds that did their best to knock me down. During one stroll around the Observatory deck with Jeff and Jordan, the summit interns, I had such a hard time walking when facing into the wind and seeing through my iced-over goggles that they had to come back and find me and help me make my way back to the Observatory. Exciting for sure!

Today its much more peaceful…light snow, 12°F, and 39mph winds. For me, its time to get back and help with another practice run of our new Distance Learning program, and to hit the books as Educational Observer Stacey Kawecki tutors me in a crash course of mountain meteorology. I’m sure there will also be plenty more de-icing and shoveling as well, too!

 

Casey Taylor,  Outreach Educator

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