Intern to Night Observer!
2019-04-15 06:50:58.000 – Jay Broccolo, Weather Observer/Meteorologist
It has been a bit since my last blog post, but for good reason. I have been training and becoming accustomed to the night shift. I recently hired as the Night Observer and Meteorologist and there is not a whole lot of overlap going from Intern during the day to Night Observer. The only similarity is the forecast, which I am thankful for the time spent as an intern so I could familiarize myself with the microclimate of Mount Washington and its orographic effect on the weather. The rest has all been new experiences.
I am sure many of you have read past posts by night observers going through their night and experiences, but I would think that everyone’s experience is quite different. I have worked plenty of nights as a geologist and logger on ultra-deep drill ships in the Gulf of Mexico. They were 12-hour shifts that often turned into 14-16 hour shifts for 3 to 4 weeks at a time and sometimes stretched to 5 weeks. It was certainly quite the experience to say the least. There are a few differences between the two though. One difference is that on the oil rig, I had several others working alongside me whereas here at the observatory, I am alone. Marty occasionally comes up to the weather room to eat out of one of his three food bowls around the building. He is actually sitting in my lap as I write this. I quite enjoy having all this time to do my work, observe and forecast the weather and contemplate many a things. It gives me an opportunity to research, learn new skills, and listen to plenty of music when I have some downtime in between tasks. Actually, thinking about it, there are quite a few differences. My heart is thanking me simply because the stress level here at the observatory is far less than the rigs and I absolutely love what I am doing here. Do not get me wrong, the rigs were a fantastic experience; I was a part of some extreme engineering feats and learned quite a bit, amongst so much more. Having said that, I studied Geology to learn how the Earth and its systems work, not to drill for oil.
So now, I am here with my dream job where I have fun and look forward to each shift. I am fortunate enough to experience every sunrise and sunset that is not obstructed by some weather phenomena and I get to experience weather that most people sleep through. I would be lying though if I said there were not some creepy aspects as well. My eyes and ears play some tricks on me, which some of them have been propagated by my shift mates. Everything makes strange noises up here: the wind, the building, even the electricity. Everyone has ‘seen’ weird things out of the corner of their eyes in the dark. Well up here is no different. Obviously, there are explanations for them all, but it is still eerie. I suppose it keeps things exciting. As if the weather isn’t enough for that, right?!
Speaking of the weather, the forecast is my favorite part of the night. I love diving into all the resources we have, the ones I have taken with me from Leeds, and some of the forecasters at the ECMWF. There are so many resources at our fingertips. Most are free and open to the public with a couple paid services that I or we use. I still find new resources to use to backup or introduce new techniques and am very proud of the end product after all the time and effort spent coalescing all of the data. Then, the following night I spend some time verifying my forecast. If an aspect was off, I figure out why and apply to it future forecasts.
Lastly, because the night observer works alone, all the work completed is my own. I take pride in the small details and tasks throughout the night. Even changing the charts and making sure that the records are exactly how they should be so that future researchers can access our data and say “wow, what great records.” I know, a bit over the top, but It is the small things that keep us going on a daily basis.
Jay Broccolo, Weather Observer/Meteorologist