Deadly conditions today above treeline…

2007-01-20 08:59:56.000 – Jim Salge,  Observer


The weather that we are expecting today on the summit is what we live for at the Mount Washington Observatory. Very high winds, temperatures that fall right through the day, and blinding blowing snow…the weather that backs up this mountains claim to the World’s Worst Weather. Already this morning, winds are sustaining in the 80+ mph range, and they will only increase this afternoon and peak during the overnight hours. Temperatures settling well below zero will have windchills reaching -60 to -80F. To follow the conditions today, I recommend this link.

While the staff is excited to observe, report and study this weather event today, we are keenly aware that this is precisely the weather that also leads to this mountains formidable reputation. We take extreme precautions before stepping foot out the door, and understand both safe areas and personal limits. And we don’t push them. Unfortunately, this mountain is known as a place to test the limits of individuals, and when they push them too far, the results are often devastating. Today, simply put, is NOT the day for any type of above treeline travel.

Instead it might be a good day to curl up with a good book that reminds us why it’s not a good day to trek on the Presidential Range. I highly recommend ‘Not Without Peril,’ but if you don’t have a copy on hand, this page is sobering. What these reports show is how fast the simplest problem can prove extremely dangerous on a day like today. If you roll your ankle at treeline at 3PM, you could end up spending the night out…and even with good gear and good preparation, you will be extremely hypothermic at best by the time rescuers, risking their lives themselves, can make it to you. Just things to keep in mind as you plan any winter hike.

Please respect the mountain today!

To end on a lighter note, as a thank you to the members of the non-profit Mount Washington Observatory, we are set to launch a new members only section early this week. The staff will be getting footage of today’s event for the ObsCast video blog, and will continue to do so as a subsequent to the normal website content. For more information on this launch, click here!


Jim Salge,  Observer

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