comment by volunteer

2009-02-08 11:11:28.000 – Mike Coclough,  Summit Volunteer

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During dinner the wind rose steadily towards hurricane force (74 mph) and by the time we were done cleaning up from the 17-setting turkey feast around 9 p.m. we noticed it was nearing the 90 mile-per-hour mark. This sent the EduTrip participants to the weather room to watch it. It soon hit 101 miles per hour which is when Ken Olney (my friend and co-volunteer) joined the EduTrippers.

The first thing I noticed upon setting foot upstairs was the fact that the windows, through which I took some scenic photos of the thickening cloud cap over the northern Presidentials just hours earlier, were caked with clumps of rime ice. We are definitely in the clouds with visibility zero. Checking other weather stations around the area, I was amazed to learn that most of them were reporting calm or very light winds. We were all amazed at the fact that it was nearing 50 degrees at the bottom of the mountain and yet upper 20s here, in the 40s at Fryeburg (near North Conway) and yet Laconia and Plymouth were both reporting similar temperatures to what we have (but calm winds.)

The sound of this kind of wind always impresses me. It whistles in the hood vent over the kitchen stove — whose upper terminus is on the roof deck, and rattles its covers in gusts. Then, abruptly and eerily, it falls silent for a few seconds.

From within my bedroom the wind now sounds once again like a 747 does when you’re seated near the wing and you can hear the four engines creating a steady forceful hum combined with the rush of air against the airframe.

We don’t have an airframe; we have very thick concrete walls, but the sound is powerfully similar. We, too, have issues with cabin pressure when the wind gets like this. The doors are now providing noticeable resistance to being opened or closed. Suction wants them open. If not latched they will open on their own; when latched they whistle in such a way that mimics the high-pitched turbocharged scream of a jumbo’s engines.

When I close my eyes, however, it is not the airliner setting that I see all around me. Just three feet behind my pillow, on the less-hospitable side of the window, there is the roar of the meteorological lion. It is the sound of surf not unlike that of nearby Wells Beach, Maine where I have often spent the night at a beachfront house known as the Sand Castle. It is the sound, as heard through walls, of the incoming tide.

 

Mike Coclough,  Summit Volunteer

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