Intern Tricia’s Farewell and Research Recap

By Tricia Hutton

Summarizing my time on Mount Washington feels like an enormous task, but I’ll try. The team at Mount Washington Observatory welcomed me into their lives only a few months ago, and now I cannot picture my life without this experience, or them in it. The interdisciplinary work on the summit is the most amazing combination for any meteorology/earth science enthusiast.

I have gained experience in such a wide range of work that has exponentially launched my knowledge. I have grown as a forecaster with our higher summits forecasts, assisted with instrument work and learned so much about what it takes to make the summit run.

I have learned communication techniques and forecasting skills from my shifts education specialist/weather observer, Francis Tarasiewicz. Francis helped me gain confidence in my skills and grow as a forecaster.

Our night observer, Ryan Knapp, has been extremely influential; I can always rely on his experience and knowledge on the summit, and learning from him has been an incredible experience.

My shift’s research specialist, Karl Philippoff, has helped me create a research project to grow as a researcher and was always there when I had questions and needed support. I am going to miss living, working, and learning from them!

And of course—I am going to miss Mr. Nimbus.  

Photo of Tricia on the summit during her internship.

My research project during my time on the summit analyzed the solid-to-liquid ratios on Mount Washington for 2023. A solid-to-liquid ratio (SLR) is calculated by measuring the amount of solid accumulation, then melting it to measure the corresponding amount of water.

SLR varies by location and from different weather variables. Accurately forecasting SLR is important for total accumulations, societal impacts, and avalanche conditions. Higher ratios are found in dry, ‘fluffy’ snow, which is liable to be blown around, while lower ratios produce wet, heavy snow and less blowing snow. During my research I looked at 2023’s SLR in relationship to temperatures, wind speed, and more.

A glimpse into this knowledge and a better understanding of Mount Washington is exciting as an aspiring scientist. I also gained more experience coding in python and exploring and expanding new topics. 

Brief analysis highlights:

A daily average was calculated each time solid precipitation was present, and a running average of 7 days was overlaid in red. It was determined that the average value over this daily data is 10:1, which is the national average. Another quick look into my analysis includes the temperature relationship with SLR. For 2023, the trend (red line) shows that as temperature increases SLR decreases. This research could then be replicated and further explored through the vast dataset of Mount Washington, dating back to 1932!  

SLR versus Time for 2023 with running average displayed.

SLR vs. Temperature.

My experience conducting research on Mount Washington will help me through my career as I continue my education through my Master’s degree starting this Fall. As I continue to grow as a scientist, I am forever grateful for my time as an intern on Mount Washington, and I’m so thankful I could be here during my favorite time of year—winter!

Reflecting on my time on the summit can best be described as incredibly fulfilling. I enjoyed waking up early to catch sunrises and going out for sunsets every chance I could get. This experience was life changing and I am sad for it to end. When you are passionate about what you do, it never feels like work, and for the first time, I’ve truly experienced that!

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