Highs and lows

2009-08-27 16:49:05.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

130 mile sunrise w/ upper atmosphere orange glow.

From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, my résumé of experienced weather is constantly in transition while working here. In the past, I probably would have used some sort of weather journal to track this, scratching out the old data and replacing it with the new. With how variable the weather is up here, that method would eventually make my entries look sloppy and full of black scratch outs. Thankfully the digital age has allowed me to type it in MS Word so I can just open it up, highlight the information and hit backspace before entering the new extreme I have experienced. And while the data on the upper end of the scale usually impresses tourists more than the minimums, to me, even some of the lows can be exciting.

Here are some of my highlights since I started here back in December of 2005: The highest wind ever recorded on the summit and highest ever observed on the surface of the earth (which most of you reading this probably know) is 231 mph. The highest wind I have experienced and have actually been outside de-icing in is 158 mph on October 30, 2006, the highest any of the current observers has seen. The highest average wind speed over a 24 hour period I have been here for is 101.9 mph on January 16, 2006 but that is not the highest of the current observers as Mike F. was present for a 24 hour average of 104.3 mph on March 31, 2008. The highest temperature ever recorded on the summit since our records started back in 1932 has been 72F recorded on August 2, 1975 and June 26, 2003. The highest temperature I have seen recorded since arriving here was 69F recorded on July 17, 2006 and June 10, 2008. The lowest temperature ever recorded on the summit since our records started was 47F below zero recorded on January 29, 1934. The lowest temperature I have experienced since arriving here has been 37F below recorded on March 6, 2007 (and wind chills that day averaged 85F to 95F below).

There are many more but these are the ones that have the “wow” factor to them when I tell family, friends and guests. But last shift on August 12, 2009, two more records were added to the old personal weather resume. On this date, I saw a new personal low met as the 24 hour average wind speed was 3.5 mph and we actually saw an hourly average of zero mph (or calm). If you’re asking why something like that impresses, well here are two facts to put it into context as to why I find it impressive: Since arriving here in December of 2005, the summit has only averaged winds less than 10 mph for 24 hours 48 times (or roughly 10 days per year). The next slowest 24 hour average was 5.3 mph recorded July 8th, 2009 but before this, the lowest in my time here was 6.0 mph recorded March 24, 2006. So, while the twelfths low winds weren’t personal records that “wow”, they are ones that produce that look people give me when I provide an uninteresting useless fact and all they mutter is “hmm.” I get this look and reaction quite often from my coworkers as I am apparently a fountain of random facts. And while these two records may not be as cool or sexy as some of my other records are to the general public, to a weather “nerd” like me, it is still one that is impressive working at a location dubbed as the worst weather in the world. But every once in a while, the summit surprises us and provides us with some of the best weather in the world*.

*Not a statistical fact, just a personal opinion.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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