Introducing Brian Fitzgerald

2012-01-14 17:31:56.000 – Brian Fitzgerald,  Summit Intern

A Thorough De-Icing

Greetings from the summit! Today marks my first comment as an intern and also the halfway point of my first week of the summit. I’m a graduate of the University of New Hampshire where I studied Environmental Conservation, focusing in Education, and have been working in the environmental education field throughout New Hampshire from the Seacoast to the White Mountains with various non-profit organizations, including in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s backcountry huts. I’ve been looking forward to my start on the summit with great anticipation for some time now, and I’m extremely excited to take in every I can in the upcoming 5 month stint here.

Along with it being my first week on high, there have been several other firsts and several important lessons learned in just the first few days. For starters, did you know that there is a right way and many wrong ways to carry a shovel on the summit? Well, thankfully Rebecca (our lovely Operations Assistant) gave me the tutorial explaining that one should carry the shovel blade tucked under one arm with the handle pointed outward and firmly grasped in the other hand. With sustained winds at only 30 miles per hour a shovel can easily turn on its operator I was told. With all the shoveling that has been going on this week, I’m glad I didn’t have to learn that lesson the hard way.

Whenever we are in the clouds here on the summit and below the freezing mark we are constantly accumulating rime ice as well, which lends itself to another favorite activity around here, which is de-icing. Did you know that even under moderate conditions we can accumulate 3 to 5 inches of rime ice per hour? The sensitive outside instruments don’t take too kindly to all of that ice, which is why observers (and interns) have the labor-some task of removing all the rime, typically with a very precise tool known as the crow bar. ‘Never hit the instruments,’ I was told repeatedly, which couldn’t be stressed enough given that our unique pitot tube anemometer and other instruments don’t exactly have a cheap replacement sitting idly by.

The weather has been truly exciting so far. It seems as if winter has magically coincided with my arrival as significant snowfall fell across the region and summit on Thursday, century mark winds occurred Friday, and extreme sub-zero ambient and wind-chill temperatures have been gracing the summit with their presence today. With a bit more luck, I’m hoping like many other people across New England that the remainder of winter will make up for our slow start. I might be asking for quite a bit here, but I might as well add I hope we have an uneventful and smooth, sunny ride down on shift change Wednesday!


Brian Fitzgerald,  Summit Intern

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