Feeling Under the Cast
2015-06-16 06:15:25.000 – Mike Carmon, Co-Director of Summit Operations
There’s those mornings of summit life when I wake up to a stubborn fog bank–nothing to see but grey, and nothing to feel but a soupy mist rolling by my face.
Then, we have those clear mornings, with some clouds above, and visibility spanning for over one-hundred miles. It’s a nice reminder that we’re not an island in the fog up here, but just one single part of a grandiose landscape called the White Mountains.
This morning’s scene, however, consisted of one of the more spectacular phenomena that we’re lucky enough to witness as mountaintop weather observers. With moisture lingering in the valleys below, and a temperature inversion set up to trap that moisture in place, an undercast formed beneath our vantage point. An undercast, or clouds below the summit, gives one a truly unique perspective that not many are accustomed to, and it’s one of those dramatic scenes that is difficult not to be in awe of.
This morning’s undercast was certainly no exception to that, as the sunshine shimmered off the tops of the clouds, with only a few of the higher 4000-foot peaks breaking through the cloud layer. From the valley perspective, this morning was likely one of those low-hanging cloud, cool, damp, and grey mornings. An undercast is usually stubborn and not quick to dissipate, as it takes a significant amount of warming at lower elevations to break that temperature inversion, allowing the moisture to dissipate into the atmosphere.
From our perspective, the few mountain peaks breaking above the clouds is a great comparison to islands in a vast ocean, and the crew on the summit of Washington is lucky enough to be perched on the pinnacle of the most prominent island of them all.
Is there a better way to start the day?
Mike Carmon, Co-Director of Summit Operations