Half a Year Back with the Obs

2022-02-04 10:38:08.000 – Stephen Durham, Weather Observer & Education Specialist


We are in the heart of winter at the summit, experiencing a succession of storms… Hooray! Last weekend’s nor’easter delivered a few inches of snow and wind gusts up to 118 mph. Observers are now seeing a flow of moisture streaming northeast, resulting in heavy periods of snowfall that will deliver a foot of new snow for several of the summits and neighboring valley locations.
Some of the southern summits could see totals exceeding a foot, especially in areas where several heavy bands passed overnight and into early Friday. A wind chill advisory will go into effect Friday evening and remain through Saturday, so be sure to check our Higher Summits Forecast for updates. We’ll have some of our team at Ice Fest this weekend. If you’re in the area, stop by our table at Ledge Brewing!
Heading out with Weather Observer Sam Robinson to exchange the precipitation can on Nov. 10, 2021. 
Over the past seven months since I rejoined Mount Washington Observatory and returned to the top of New England, I’ve experienced a variety of excitement, from the always extreme weather, to the rewarding education programs with schools, and the challenges of working with different instrumentation at our summit weather station.
The education programs that I help produce, such as Home of the World’s Worst Weather Live, the “Chat with a Scientist” portion of WeatherX, and meeting in person with school groups during the warmer months remind me how much I enjoyed learning about the weather, the environment, and climate when I was growing up. Now it’s my turn to help others enjoy learning about these topics.
WeatherX is focused on inspiring middle school students in rural areas to study weather and data science. The program helps kids gain experience with larger amounts of weather data to investigate extreme weather events that occur at the summit and in their own communities.
Getting to chat with middle schools this school year has been amazing. Students ask great questions about the observatory, the weather, my experience, and much more. I’ve always taken it to heart when I have the opportunity to talk about being a meteorologist, as many kids or adults are so fascinated with the weather.
Leading a Home of the World’s Worst Weather Live virtual classroom program.  
My own anticipation for winter weather is particularly high. This is my favorite time of year for big snowstorms. One of my dreams as a kid was to see snow on my birthday in late September, and I came within three days last fall at the summit. Both shifts of weather observers experienced the first snowfall of the season on September 29, as it fell during a shift change day.
Witnessing the aurora borealis in October was one of the most fascinating events and definitely a bucket-list experience. We all stayed up until midnight watching the northern lights get stronger and brighter and dance through the sky. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
This winter, while not huge in the way of snow so far, has had its exciting moments. I enjoy completing hourly observations in challenging weather, like during a nor’easter, freezing rain, or a blue bird day with gusty winds, which make monitoring the Hays Chart extra exciting. A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to observe 141 mph, 142 mph, and a 144 mph wind gusts, beating the highest record when I was an intern here in January 2019.
The sound that the wind makes as it roars past the weather room windows or across the observation deck is thrilling, making me appreciate and love weather even more. I’m excited about 2022 at Mount Washington Observatory, and I can’t wait to continue creating great education programs each and every shift. It isn’t just an opportunity for others to learn; it helps me continue studying weather, the environment, and our climate.
 The auroral borealis (northern lights) on Oct. 12, 2021.  


Stephen Durham, Weather Observer & Education Specialist

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