Hello! My name is Charlie Peachey, and I am a new weather observer at Mount Washington Observatory. I recently graduated with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in meteorology from Plymouth State University and am wicked excited for the opportunity to work and live at the Home of the World’s Worst Weather.
I was born and raised just outside of Boston in Concord, MA, and spent my summers either relaxing along the seacoast of New Hampshire or exploring the White Mountains. So, I was lucky enough to experience all the incredible weather that New England has to offer while growing up. I began to develop my passion for all things weather at a young age, but winter storms and nor’easters were always my favorite, especially when they canceled school and allowed me to spend a day playing in the snow.
During high school, I was a member of my school’s weather club, Concord-Carlisle Weather Services, which was one of only two pre-college chapters of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in the country at that time. Being a part of the club enabled me to start doing meteorological research at a relatively young age, present at two national AMS conferences, and give a TEDx talk about the weather balloons I helped build and launch. It’s also where I realized I could turn my passion for meteorology into a future career.
My passion for the weather eventually led me to attend Plymouth State University and graduate with my bachelor’s degree in meteorology in the spring of 2022 and my master’s degree in applied meteorology in the summer of 2023. Aside from a few calculus classes (and COVID-19), I loved every second.
Very early in my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to take part in a National Science Foundation research grant and took full advantage. I spent the next year refining my research skills and learning how to collaborate with other scientists to achieve a common goal. My professors had various ongoing projects that I was able to on, but my favorite was a snowpack measuring project that took place in Tuckerman Ravine (even though it meant that I had to shovel snow in the middle of June).
The project also included funding for each student to obtain an internship the following summer of 2019. Ultimately, the outside funding resulted in me being offered an internship with Mount Washington Observatory’s IT department.
Typically, interns at the Observatory work on the summit with the weather observers every other week, but my internship was unique since I worked in the valley five days per week for most of the summer. While an intern, I got the chance to shadow the director of technology daily. I was also tasked with writing weekly blogs for the website, creating graphics to advertise our annual Seek the Peak fundraiser, and building a portable weather station for use at the summit during the summer.
My roommate, Rowan McCullough, and I, taking photos on the Lion Head trail during Seek the Peak 2019.
Overall, I loved everything about my internship at the Observatory. Especially the opportunity it gave me to witness the day-to-day life of a professional meteorologist and how professional-level research was conducted. It was a truly transformative experience. Going into the summer, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a broadcast meteorologist or focus more on meteorological research after I graduated. And by the end of the summer, I realized that research was the career path I wanted to pursue. So, my experience as an Observatory intern was the primary reason I decided to return to Plymouth State and obtain my master’s degree in applied meteorology.
Here I am on the instrument tower during my internship in summer 2019.
One of the most memorable parts of my internship was being able to help fix weather stations that the Observatory operates as a part of our Mount Washington Regional Mesonet. Our mesonet is a network of 17 remote weather stations in and around the White Mountains that continuously collect meteorological data. We visited the station at Wildcat Mountain’s summit the most. During one of our visits, the batteries for the station had to be changed, but they weren’t like ordinary batteries. While regular batteries can fit in the palm of your hand, the station uses 100+ pound batteries that require two people and a 2×4 to move them.
Luckily, the Wildcat let us use their gondola to transport the batteries to the summit, so we didn’t have to hike up the mountain with them. However, once we got them up there, we had to haul them across the summit ourselves to install them. By the end of the day, we were all excited to be done moving them, but being sore was worth it, knowing that I had helped maintain a vital data source.
My Plymouth State University professor Eric Kelsey fixes the weather station on Wildcat Mountain.
Data from the higher elevations in the White Mountains is critically important to understanding the increasingly prevalent effects of climate change across New Hampshire. Specifically, the data is essential to understanding how the higher summits will respond to a changing climate. Most people don’t live at the summit of a 4,000’+ mountain, but they are affected by the weather that occurs on them. So, maintaining the mesonet remains a top priority of the Observatory due to the need for additional high-elevation observations and weather data in and around the White Mountains. Without the mesonet, there would be no way to quantify how the climate is changing in the higher elevations of the White Mountains.
Recently, the Observatory received funding to double the number of stations that make up our mesonet so that we can bolster the amount of data it records. Thanks to the Northern Border Regional Commission, 11 of our existing weather stations will be upgraded, and 18 new ones will be added over the next three years. Doing so will help advance our understanding of how weather patterns are changing in the White Mountains. Also, it will provide data that is essential for our region’s ability to prepare for future extreme weather events and changes in our local climate.
Sunrise on Sept. 8, 2023.
Charlie Peachey, Weather Observer & Research Specialist