First Week On The Summit

2008-07-01 11:28:21.000 – Dennis Vienneau,  Space Grant Extern

Precipitation Can

Let me take a moment to reflect on my first week at the Mt. Washington Observatory. It started last Wednesday in the parking lot meeting the other crew members of the week’s shift. The van to bring the shift crew up the mountain was fully loaded with staff and supplies so I rode up separately with Ken Rancourt, the Director of Summit Operations. Ken acted as the tour guide pointing out various points of interest and important landmarks to remember in the event that I find myself lost in the fog while traversing the mountain. I’ve been told that Ken will frequently quiz the new crew members on their summit landmark knowledge so I’ve been studying the maps in the observation room.n

nI’ve been tasked this week with becoming acquainted with the daily MWO operations. There are nine people on the summit this week, three weather observers, two interns, two volunteers, a summit museum/store employee, and me, a teacher extern. Two of the observers, Stacey and Steve, work the day shift and one, Mike, works the overnight shift. Weather observations are collected, recorded, and reported hourly to the National Weather Service. Every three hours, the weather data collected and reported, becomes slightly more involved and even more so every six hours.n

nForecasts are transmitted to several radio stations, some are live and some are taped for later play back. Forecasts are also transmitted to the AMC huts where a designated person is responsible for recording the weather for hikers’ awareness. The observers also compile a weekly weather summary that goes to the Mountain Ear, a weekly Mt. Washington Valley newspaper.n

nThe interns, Jeff and Lisa, assist the observers with weather observations, lead tours of the observatory for observatory members that visit the summit, work on individual research projects that they have taken on, and assist with various maintenance projects as they evolve. The volunteers (Beth and Sandra) cook our great evening meals and help to keep us neat and organized in our living quarters. Deb has been down in the museum store busy with sales of MWO paraphernalia and interacting with visitors to the summit. n

nAnd me, well I’ve been observing the flurry of activity on the mountain, asking lots of questions, helping where I can with observations, lending a hand with the mounting and dismounting of instruments and in general being in continual awe of being on the Summit.


Dennis Vienneau,  Space Grant Extern

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