2014-09-27 23:50:00.000 – Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist
While today felt like summer on the summit, all one had to do was look down into the valleys below to see the indicators of fall (foliage) are all around us. And while Sunday is expected to be equally summer-like weather-wise, visitors should not be lulled into thinking this is the norm or that operations on and around the summit are still operating with summer schedules.
The first difference is the operating schedules of AMC huts and shelters. Our closest neighboring hut, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, is closed for the season. Madison Spring Hut’s last night of being open is tonight (Saturday night). And next month, additional higher elevation huts will be closing for the season as well. So, if you are thinking about staying at a high elevation hut, now is the time to check for availability before it is too late. For a full rundown of hut closures and availability, head HERE. Or if an RMC hut or shelter is in your plans, their operations are HERE.
Next are the operating schedules of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and the Cog to the summit. Saturday marked a new round of fall operating hours for The Cog which can be found HERE. After Sunday, the operating hours of the Mt Washington Auto Road will be changing as well. For more information about their fall operating hours, please head HERE.
As the operating hours of the transportation methods to the summit change, the operating hours of the summit facilities, operated by New Hampshire State Park, will be following suit. Their operating fall operating hours can be found HERE.
All of the operating hours above are changing in response to the shorter days of fall. This time of year, the summit only receives about twelve hours of daylight as the sun rises later and the sun sets earlier. So, if hiking is your means of transportation, an earlier start than what you would do in June is strongly advised. And while you should always have a headlamp with you, with shorter days, it becomes even more important to have one.
Lastly, whether you drive or hike up, be mindful of the weather. After Sunday, summits will be making a return to more fall like weather. So, while this weekend saw 50s and 60s around the clock, the coming week will be seeing a return of seasonal highs in the 40s and lower 50s with lows in the 20s and 30s. Factor in the winds, and it can feel even colder on exposed skin. So if you can’t hike this weekend and you plan to hike this coming work week, be sure to pack plenty of layers to adjust to the variable conditions you will experience on your way up and down. And as always, you can check our 36 Hour Higher Summits Forecast so you are well prepared for whatever the elements throw at you.
Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist