Fall into Winter
2012-10-10 23:39:40.000 – Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist
Monday nights Aurora, as seen from the valleys.
It always feels odd coming back to work after vacation; readjusting my sleeping pattern, readjusting to waking up with a clock, packing up work clothes and gear in a backpack the night prior to summiting, answering emails that went unchecked or unanswered, and then trying to play catch-up at meetings where one week alone can bring drastically different outcomes than what you remember when you left. Playing into all these readjustments is the weather. As I was unpacking my work bag last night and refilling it for this week, I noticed a difference in what was coming up with me as opposed to what I brought down last month. Thinking back three weeks ago, leafs were still on the trees and shrubs all around the summit, snow was hinted at on the peak but didn’t stick around long, temperatures were still averaging above freezing and considered “warm” to me, and high winds were something we only looked forward to. Returning earlier this week and then driving up today, I found the leaves all but gone around my house and the summit, snow is now coating the summit in an almost permanent fashion (being replenished as it falls again tonight), temperatures now average below freezing, with single digits possible on the summit later this shift, and high winds are now becoming their typical every-other-day affair in our forecasts. Gone are the days of packing up shorts, light pullovers, and summer boots; in their place, snow pants, winter coats, and insulated winter boots. Was I shocked at this? Not at all, I work at Mount Washington after all, so this is normal and to be expected, especially this time of year. Does this mean we won’t see a warm up again until spring? No, but those days will become fewer. So like myself, visitors need to leave the summer mindset of three weeks ago behind and start packing and preparing for winter-like conditions on the higher summits.
Lastly, let me just state that the picture appended to this comment has nothing to do with what I wrote about. I just wanted to add a slightly better image of the Aurora Borealis that Observer Mike Carmon mentioned in his comment on Monday night. But, neither of our images truly do any justice to what was viewed – but pictures rarely capture the image as well as our eyes in my opinion.
Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist