Highest Wind of the Season

2018-10-30 08:34:13.000 – Zach Butler, Summit Intern


Finally, I have seen, observed, and felt a 100 mph wind! Thus far in my internship since late May, I have only experienced a top wind speed of 84 mph. Coming into this storm, our crew had high hopes to have sustained winds of 100 mph and gusts well over. Our forecasts and hopes came true last night with a peak wind gust of 119 mph at 2:23 AM on October 16th. This was the highest wind the summit has observed this Summer and Fall season. I’ll take you through the play by play of the events leading up to the storm, the storm itself, and our crews experience in it.


A strengthening low-pressure system was moving to the east off of the northern Great Lakes. The summit saw above freezing temperatures prior to the high winds as we were in the warm sector of the low-pressure as observed below, at 4 PM. A very strong cold front (the border of the red and blue dotted lines) would soon move through New England, plummeting temperatures and ramping up the winds.

Our shift new this storm had a high potential to give us winds well over 100 mph. The only dilemma was the peak winds would be in the middle of the night. Would we stay up? Well of course we would as the crazy and weather enthused meteorologists that we are up here. Adam, Ian, and I instructed out night observer Chris to wake us up around 2 or 3 AM, when the winds were forecasted to be the strongest. “Knock knock”, on my door at 230 AM. “We just had a 119 mph wind gust!” I jumped out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning. Ran up to our weather room to see the Hay’s Chart jumping around and the wind gust of 119 mph (pictured below).


After seeing this, we of course got on our gear to go outside. The winds at 3 AM were sustained around 100 mph but gusting to 110 mph. With the high winds came the cold temperatures. Going to bed at 11 PM, the temperature was 36 degrees. Now at 3 AM, the temperature was 20 degrees with a wind chill at -10! Rime ice began to form heavily on the summit as well during this time period. Adam, Ian, and I got our gear on and were ready to walk on the deck. Wow!! What a wind and how insane it was to experience it in the complete dark. It really is hard to describe experiencing 100 mph winds, especially at night. Surprising I could stand, but barely and was definitely being pushed around. A crouched position was necessary as well as a low crouch. This was one of the greatest and most intense experiences I have ever had. Our Observer Ian even tried to join the century club. He walked around the deck without any support, just a tight crouch and low position. He managed to completely walk around the deck at 3 AM without falling! We came back inside to confirm the winds. Sadly the winds during that time were sustained at 98 mph. Just 2 mph shy of Ian reaching the century club. We rejoiced with Chris inside about the gnarly conditions and how awesome it really was. We instructed him if the winds get higher to wake us up again but unfortunately, that did not happen.

Waking up at 6 AM to start our shift, we came upstairs to see this very impressive Hay’s Chart as seen above. Winds gusting over 100 mph throughout the night but sustained in the 90s, just as we forecasted. The storm was not over though and the tasks of the workday begun. Knocking rime ice off of the tower! Despite most people thinking I am crazy, I love this job. Knocking ice off our tower in sustained 90 mph winds with 100 mph gusts is truly a crazy and amazing experience. Here is a picture our observer Ian took of me knocking the ice off. I’ll leave you with this picture as the storm passed and winds weakened to the high 60s during the day with a temperature of 20 degrees.



Zach Butler, Summit Intern

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