Happy Big Wind Day

2013-04-12 18:35:42.000 – Michael Kyle,  Summit Intern

Happy Big Wind Day Everyone! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Big Wind Day, Big Wind Day is a day in honor of one of our most notable weather events. It was on this day 79 years ago, that the observers at the newly founded Mount Washington Observatory recorded a wind speed of 231 MPH . Observers Salvatore Pagliuca, Alex McKenzie, Wendell Stephenson, along with several feline observers and two guests, had front row seats to the abnormally strong, late winter storm.

In the 48 hours leading up to the April 12th, 1934 storm, conditions changed dramatically. Weather observations on April 10th where primarily sunny and calm; typical spring conditions. Then, low pressure over the Great Lakes traveled west, and began to intensify as it approached high pressure over the Atlantic Ocean. The high created a blocking pattern which caused an extremely tight pressure gradient to form over the New England Region. By the morning of April 12th it was clear that the weather conditions were quickly deteriorating and a storm was heading towards the summit. On April 12th, Sal Pagliuca wrote in the observers log book “That there was no doubt this morning that a “super-hurricane,” Mt Washington style, was in full development.”

Sal’s statement that morning would turn out to be dead on. By the middle of that afternoon, he and his fellow observers witnessed and recorded the world’s highest ever recorded wind speed. That record was held until 1996 Tropical Cyclone Olivia made landfall on Barrow Island recording a speed of 253mph. While we lost the record, we are hopeful that one day Mount Washington will reclaim. If you want more information about our record wind speed, check out Mount Washington Observatory’s online gift shop . There you will find books on the history of Mount Washington plus tons of other great merchandise.

 

Michael Kyle,  Summit Intern

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