Delivering Thunderstorms

2014-05-26 19:09:48.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

A decaying thunderstorm from Sunday.

When I was a kid, I used to choose my breakfast cereals purely by the toy surprise associated with them. While most offered instant gratification with the toy stuffed inside, every once in a while there would be a larger prize that I had to collect multiple bar codes or box tops for and mail off a form to receive at a later time. Normally these prizes took 4 to 6 weeks to receive but as a kid, time held little to no significant meaning and this was after all, an era before tracking numbers and the internet even existed. Therefore, each day the UPS truck would roll down the road and I would get super excited and yell out, ‘Here it comes!’ with my nose pressed to the glass. It would approach and then depart without stopping only to have my excitement die down in utter defeat. Occasionally the little brown truck would stop nearby getting my hopes up but those feelings would then fade as I saw the packages delivered to a nearby house and not mine. Eventually though, it would approach and then finally stop at my house and my box top prize would arrive. Success! A great feeling after ‘working’ so hard to get the toy I only saw as pictures on a box. This analogy is what it feels is like with thunderstorms up here.

As I assemble the Higher Summits Forecast each morning, I might see some sort of disturbance roll through. I look at all the various conditions to see what ‘surprises’ await us in the day ahead. Most days we will get the instant gratification of a rain shower but every once and a while, the larger ‘prize’ of a thunderstorm is indicated. As the day wears on, we see thunderstorms starting to pop up and approach the summit. As we watch the radar/satellite loops and the thunderstorms approach, we get super excited and yell out, ‘Here it comes!’ with our noses pressed to the glass (thankfully, we clean these off each week). The thunderstorms approach and then depart without delivering anything to us. Occasionally the thunderstorms will approach our neighbors but it always seems like they are skipping our ‘house.’ Eventually though, the thunderstorms approach and then finally deliver to our ‘house’ and the excitement pays off as we back away from the windows and watch the prized show happening around us; all the while remaining safely indoors. It is a neat experience after forecasting them in the morning when all they were to me at that time were numbers, colors, and images on a screen.

So, what do I hope you the reader take away from all of this? When we forecast thunderstorms in the Higher Summits Forecast, we are not just saying thunderstorms will only happen on the highest summit (Mt. Washington); they may or will (pending on the wording) occur on one or more of the higher summits. So there will be days where you might not experience them on Mount Washington but go one summit or range over and you might get slammed. Therefore, be extra vigilant or possibly postpone your activities when doing anything outdoors and thunderstorms are forecasted this summer whether it’s golfing, rafting, picnicking, or hiking some of New Hampshire’s higher peaks.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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