Highest gust in 10 years!

2006-10-30 08:40:31.000 – Jim Salge,  Observer

Off the moderate speed chart!!!

I was awakened at around 1:30AM last night by a thunderous roar throughout the building, a sound louder than I’ve ever heard in the building. And my memory wasn’t that short, wind speeds earlier in the day were topping 140mph with some regularity, so I knew this was big. I just about jumped out of bed with excitement and ran upstairs and found Mike Pelchat from state park also recently awakened eyeing the charts. Ryan was across the room checking the database by the minute, and greeted me with a chipper good morning. Just then the whole building shook again, a few awed expletives were uttered, and a gust of 158mph (pending re-analysis for pressure and temperature at the time) was recorded on (or off have you) the charts.

Shortly thereafter, and not sure how much higher winds would go, thoughts immediately turned to the pitot, our high speed anemometer. The hourly task of deicing had kept the instrument working flawlessly despite the unusually heavy rime buildup on the tower, but now the wind speeds FAR exceeded safe limits in the ring to perform the maintenance.

Ryan and Mike sought out the longest crowbar in the station, which though usually cumbersome to use, was perfect in this situation. From the protection of the parapet below the instrument ring, all that was needed was to stick the iron in the air upwind of the instrument and the wind took care of the rest, driving the bar into the ring. Icing problem solved, and though wind speeds did not end up increasing, they were slow to recede, remaining still steady above 100mph as of this writing.

Checking records, the gust recorded last night was the highest to rock the summit since July of 1996. It also was a mere 3mph below the October record wind speed of 161 mph in 1943.

Wind forecasts keep likely gusts above 100mph throughout the day today, with relative relief tomorrow, 40 to 60 mph with warmer temperatures and clear skies. And though the crew loves working in the extremes, after three days of battling extreme winds, these observers are worn out!

 

Jim Salge,  Observer

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