I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more…
2011-09-16 18:06:40.000 – Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist
Stepping outside this afternoon, it feels like a whole different world. The skies are gray and the summit is coated in rime ice, glaze ice, sleet, and snow making it feel less like the summit of Mount Washington and more like the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars (minus the three moons, the Rebel Alliance, Vader’s Death Squadron, extreme cold, etc). And while snow and cold in the middle of September may seem unusual to most, by Mount Washington standards, it really isn’t that odd. Snow this early isn’t record breaking. We’ve had it snow every month of the year. And it was around this time last year that we got our first snowfall on the season as well. The amount of snowfall totals (at least so far) aren’t record breaking. So far we’ve received 0.6″, the monthly record is 7.8″ and the 24 hour total is 7.7″, so we’re not even close to breaking those. Not even the temperature is all that unusual. While it is the coldest temperatures we’ve seen since May 9th, the record lows this time of year are all in the teens, so our low of 23F (so far) is far from ground breaking. So, while it isn’t record breaking or highly unusual, it serves as a reminder that winter is on its way.
And since this winter weather is raising a few questions, I will answer a few of the common ones that have popped up. How long will this winter blast last? A ridge of high pressure is building and with it, drier and milder air will be moving in. Summits are expected to clear tonight into Saturday with temperatures gradually rebounding to above freezing as winds decrease. So, milder fall weather is once again on its way. Can I come up and see it? Yes – But if you do, a few things to keep in mind. If you hike up, be prepared to hike down. The Mount Washington Auto Road to the summit was closed today. So this meant no hiker shuttles or cars on the summit. This may be the case tomorrow (weather pending) so be sure to check their website or give them a call prior to arriving to drive up or depending on them for a ride down. And while the Mount Washington Cog Railway was operating today and is expected to tomorrow, be sure to check their site or call them prior to arrival just to make sure. Is NH State Parks Sherman Adams building open? Yes, but with minimal operations (at least today). So, while you can come in for heat, water, and the bathroom, food services may not be open or operating the entire day. And again, while it is a shelter for the day, at the end of the day, you will have to leave and hike back down as it isn’t an overnight hostel. Where can I see more images of the snow? You can check out our webcams, the webcam archive, Brian’s Accuweather blog, or our Facebook page where we have set up an album from the day. These are the big questions but if you have any others, be sure to check the relevant websites and ask questions on our Facebook page or in our forums.
Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist