From 0 To 10

2013-10-11 23:49:28.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist


I have been working on the summit since December of 2005, and in that time I have seen my fair share of sunrises and sunsets. After viewing each one, I will typically make a mental note how it rates on a scale from 0 to 10; zero being a foggy sunrise/set and a 10 being something that leaves me and others speechless. With the summit in the fog over 60 percent of the year, I have witnessed several “zeroes.” I have also witnessed plenty of “ones” – those days where the sky is perfectly clear or the clouds are on the opposite side of the sky making for little to no color apart from the sky going from black to blue or the other way around. A two or three would be those days where we might get a hint of color but it is a narrow spectrum, a small highlighted area, or it is all short lived. The mid-range (4 to 6) varies and can include an undercast with some color above, clear skies above and the undercast highlighted, intermittent fog with clouds above, etc. They are scenes that are average and something I have seen numerous times before. The upper ratings in my spectrum (7-9) are those rises and sets that have widespread color, a large spectrum, and that last a long time.

Lastly there are those perfect tens – those days the sky erupts in color from top to bottom in all directions for an hour before and an hour after. And adding to it all are those unique weather occurrences setting it all apart – a partial or total undercast, virga draping down in different colors then the clouds above them, a rainbow or double rainbow, a light pillar, a fading or start of an Aurora, blowing snow, rime ice glowing, or perfectly calm and quiet conditions. These are the kind of scenes that are just so unusual, so beautiful, and so phenomenal that I have to wake people up or drag them outside with me just to make sure I can share the moment and make the surreal seem just slightly more normal.

These are my ratings; however, I always remind guests and new employees that these ratings are purely MY ratings and they are on a sliding scale of sorts the longer I work here. When I was first starting out here, everything I saw was a perfect ten. The views, the colors, and the weather – it was all new, unique, and like nothing I had ever seen before. I would photograph everything thinking it was the bee’s knees. At times, I look back at my picture catalog and wonder why I took over 100 pictures of a perfectly clear sky when now and days I typically only take about a dozen images. It’s not that a clear sky day isn’t beautiful to me anymore, it is just that I believe that with time I have realized that I don’t necessarily need to photograph it all to remember it all; it’s more quality over quantity. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if a sunrise or sunset is a zero or a 10 to me or anyone around me. Now and days I look at the world around me and try to find those things that stand out and will help me remember the moment. So this Columbus Day weekend, hopefully you can get out and witness/experience some moments of your own.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Find Older Posts