From the Panhandle to the Presidential Range
2021-05-25 17:19:01.000 – Alex Branton, Summit Intern
Hello, my name is Alexandra (Alex) Branton and I am so excited to be interning with the Mount Washington Observatory this summer! The summit is a huge change of scenery for me, as I am from the panhandle of Florida. I have just completed my junior year studying aviation meteorology and air traffic control at the Florida Institute of Technology. My hobbies include running, hiking, climbing, paddle boarding, watching New Girl, and almost anything outside. I recently ran in the Florida Marathon this past February and thru hiked the 216-mile John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. I was so lucky to grow up in an area that receives so much interesting weather and is home to exciting military aviation, thus inspiring my route of study. Tropical weather initially sparked my curiosity for meteorology, as Pensacola is heavily affected by it. When Hurricane Katrina was striking the gulf coast, I was five years old and was awestruck as the storm was blowing through. I desperately wanted to go outside during the peak intensity of the storm and decided to open the door. I was swept off my feet as the door quickly swung open and I held on to the handle for dear life. My dad pulled me inside, the door was broken, my parents were frightened, but I was exhilarated. I still get that unique feeling of excitement every time I see a cyclone beginning to form, when there is a chance of severe thunderstorms, or an interesting cloud is floating in the sky. One phenomenon I have only barely experienced is snow, and there is still some on the ground at the summit of Mount Washington.
I did not know what to expect as I began my first week interning at the observatory. I got a little apprehensive when observer Nicole Tallman said, “you’re basically signing up to be stranded at the top of a mountain,” but as my first shift is coming to a close, I have felt anything but stranded. I find myself unable to pull my eyes away from the mountains in the distance and have had good company with fellow intern Maddie and observers Nicole, Sam, and David. I have already learned so much from them, like how to forecast as well as how to take accurate meteorological observations, and I cannot wait to learn more. Although we haven’t gotten much interesting weather yet, I got to experience a 78 mph gust while out on the deck and got to see ice form on the ground after a night of below freezing temperatures−something I am not used to. I also enjoy witnessing visitors’ excitement and wonder as they peer across the ridges in the distance or trudge across the deck in high winds. Moreover, I am eager to share my passion for the weather with visitors in the Extreme Mount Washington museum when it opens. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to experience what it is like to live at the home of the world’s worst weather and to contribute to the observatory’s mission of advancing the understanding of Earth’s weather and climate.
Alex Branton, Summit Intern