First Days on the Summit

2012-08-10 11:28:23.000 – Eric Kelsey,  Director of Research

Building Cumulonimbus Cloud

What better way to learn about the summit operation ins-and-outs than to dive right in with a three-day stay at the top. The talented and energetic summit crew has fully immersed me in everything about mountain living from instruments to summit entertainment to Marty. As a brand new employee, I am excited to be able to advance the Observatory’s mission and lead scientific research into the future.

My first full day on the summit as an official employee of the MWO was spectacular. Thursday morning, four of us hiked down to Lake of the Huts to install new meteorological instruments. With the threat of thunderstorms, we kept our eyes to the sky and noticed some amazing cloud formations. Just east of the summit we watched a cumulonimbus cloud grow so rapidly it was as though we were watching a time lapse loop. Some of the updrafts rose fast enough to push the air above it upward to form cap-clouds just above the cumulonimbus (left side in photo).

A half-hour later, another interesting cloud formed to the north near Ridge of the Caps on the west side of Mt. Jefferson. Under the cloud base of some building cumulus clouds, some raggedy scud clouds began to form. In less than 20 minutes, the scud cloud had formed a new cloud base at a level below the original cloud base. Shortly thereafter, were became socked in fog. The meteorological processes that led to these clouds and fog are intriguing and are a source of inspiration for me to study the ‘world’s worst weather’ along side the ‘world’s best observers.’


Eric Kelsey,  Director of Research

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