Data Quality

2013-03-09 16:41:52.000 – Mike Carmon,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

This is BAD!

Here at the Mount Washington Observatory, a fully-functioning mountaintop weather station, we are only as valuable as the quality data that we collect. Our instruments and observations are our life-blood, and it is a full time job (and then some) to ensure this data is of sound quality and flowing smoothly.

Sometimes, ensuring quality data is an adrenaline-pumping challenge, ascending to the top of our tower in 100+ mph winds and heavy riming conditions to remove ice from our wind instruments. Although this is exhilarating and thrilling in its own right, occasionally, the task of quality control is much more peaceful.

Today was an excellent example of the latter. Upon waking up today, I noticed that the temperature profile displayed by our Auto Road Vertical Profile (ARVP) remote stations looked a little strange. Readings were in the 40s F near the base, and steadily declined into the lower 30s F as altitude increased. However, with the summit sitting at a reading of 26F, it seemed erroneous that the highest ARVP site, the station at an altitude of 5300 feet, was reading much colder, at 21F. Since the synoptic setup did not signify that any sort of temperature inversion of this nature should exist, I suspected something was amiss at the station. Since this site is very much within walking distance, I geared up and set off down the road to check out the situation.

About 30 minutes later, I arrived at the 5300 foot site. As expected, the entire setup was caked in snow and rime ice. The pineapple shields that house our temperature and relative humidity probes, which need to be kept free and clear of ice and snow, were not even visible! After a few minutes of clearing, I managed to free all of the wintry mess from the probes, ensuring they start recording quality measurements once more.

With the sun high in the sky, winds ranging from 5-15 mph, no clouds overhead, and temperatures in the 30s, the ascent back to my summit home was nothing short of pristine and tranquil.


Mike Carmon,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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