Current Operations Q and A

2014-10-11 18:34:00.000 – Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist


As you may have seen on our Facebook page, Twitter page, Webcams, local news, or in person, the summit has received a coating of snow and rime over the past few days. And reading through emails and comments on our social media pages, this has raised a few questions.For example, is this normal?Yes! October is typically when the summit(s) start seeing measurable amounts of snow with Mount Washington’s first inch usually falling right around the start of the month.If you look at our F-6 Monthly Data page and click on the various October summaries, you will see exactly what I mean. And while scrolling through those months, notice that in several years, October has seen close to a foot of snow on the ground by the end of the month; not always, but it is plausible in any given year.

Do I need crampons to climb the mountain?As of now, no.Crampons on the little amount of snow we have could potentially lead to more harm than good especially if you do not know what you are doing with them in the first place.However, packing some additional traction like what you would find with Yaktrax is highly advisable (however, not required).Although, looking at the boots of hikers today, many made it up here without added traction.So, it is doable without added traction but think of it as the difference of driving on snow with summer tires versus snow tires – it can be done, but one works a bit better than the other.

I see snow; does this mean that (the Mt. Washington Auto Road, The Cog, the NHSP Sherman Adams building) is closed? While weather can affect the day to day operations of the summit transportation options and summit facilities, the season as a whole is not done yet.As of today, all facilities and transportation methods are still operating and open.However, weather is fickle this time of year. So, prior to visiting, it is strongly advised that you contact or look into the operating schedules of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, The Cog, or NH State Park so you don’t get caught off guard.And since all of these are managed independently from each other (including our member supported, non- profit Observatory) all inquiries about a specific aspect of operations need to be made to that specific group.

What’s the weather gonna be like tomorrow?We produce a 36 hour Higher Summits forecast which is posted in written and audio form each morning by 5 am and another audio update by 5 pm daily (we are working on doing a written afternoon update to be available by the end of the year).If you want a second opinion, NWS Gray, ME produces a recreational forecast for the mountains of western Maine and New Hampshire.If all else fails, there are several automated forecast sites where you can input our zip code of 03589 to get an automated forecast.Due to the forecast algorithms these sites use, the numbers on these pages should be taken with a grain of salt since they tend to be warmer, calmer, and showing broad stroke weather.However, getting some forecast information is better than no forecast information, especially in this day and age. Saying you didn’t know what the weather was going to be like prior to going anywhere nowadays is the first step of being an unprepared individual.


Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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