Goodbye To Summer, Hello To Fall

2014-08-29 22:03:15.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Northern Presidentials at Sunset.

Labor Day Weekend usually signifies the ‘end’ of summer for many people since kids head back to school and fall is right around the corner. Labor Day also marks several changes for the summit as well. The first change of note is the weather, especially if you are considering a hike to the summit. September is the month when the summit will typically see the first inch (or more) of snowfall. It also the time of year when rime and glaze ice start to become commonplace making for icy trail conditions. While the start of the month normally sees a daily average temperature of 46F (8C), by the end of the month the days are averaging 36F (2C); and these are the averages (which means low temperatures), can be even colder. So hikers should never assume that just because it is a nice, warm day below that it is just as nice on top. Prior to departing, you can check out our 36 hour Higher Summits Forecast and for a second opinion, you can use NWS’s Recreation Forecast. Computerized forecasts like those on or can be used for our location but should always be followed up with checking the MWO or NWS outlooks as your trip approaches since automated services typically keep us warmer and far less windy than reality.

The next change of note is the length of days. The days are getting shorter; they have been ever since June. While September 1 can see 13 hours and 26 minutes of sunshine on the summit by the end of the month, summits will only see 11 hours and 59 minutes of daylight. So, start early if you expect to end prior to needing a headlamp (although you should always pack a headlamp, as you never know what might happen while on the trails).

With shorter days, this also means the operating schedules of summit transportation and facilities will be changing. The operating schedule of the Mt Washington Auto Road can be found HERE. The operating schedule of The Cog can be found HERE. The operating schedule of Mount Washington State Park (MWSP) can be found HERE – this page lists their Cafeteria hours in addition to the Sherman Adams Summit Building. Additionally, since the Mount Washington Observatory is located within the Sherman Adams Building, our hours of operation for Extreme Mount Washington and Observatory tours will reflect similar hours of operations as MWSP. And the big asterisk for all of the operating schedules listed above is once again the weather. Bad weather can limit the services of all summit operations – so yet another reason to keep an eye on the weather on any given day. And if you have any further questions about the operating hours of any transportation or the summit facilities, contact information can be found in any of the links I provided above.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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