January Melt Out and an Impressively Windy Start to Winter

2019-01-24 13:20:44.000 – Tom Padham, Weather Observer/Education Specialist

 

 

Melting snow and rime ice beneath our A-frame leading to the observation deck 
 
We’re seeing the infamous “January thaw” here on the summit today as temperatures have risen above freezing for the first time in 2019. Rain is currently falling on the summit, combined with fog to lead to very wet and unpleasant conditions outside. Our snowpack is condensing and melting quickly this morning, falling from 10 inches to 7 as of noon today. Temperatures are expected to rise into the upper 30s Fahrenheit; just a few degrees shy of a daily record. Luckily this thaw will be very brief, as temperatures are expected to fall back below freezing late this afternoon and then fall below zero this weekend, with several chances of accumulating snowfall in the days ahead.
 
 
Melting snowpack looking towards the summit sign during the early afternoon 1/24/2019. Liquid water will quickly refreeze later tonight. 

More impressive than this brief thaw have been our winds so far this winter. While we haven’t surpassed the highest winds in my 6 years on the summit (141 mph), I can say this first half of the winter season has been the windiest in terms of average wind speed and number of 100+ mph days. With still one more week to go in the month of January, we’ve seen 10 days with 100+ mph winds, and 18 days with winds of hurricane force (74+ mph). Average winds for the month have been also been above average at 48 mph, and with 4 days of 120+ mph peak gusts it’s felt like an epic start to 2019 so far!

Although our average winds are highest in January at 46 mph, the summit has seen many of our strongest wind events during the second half of the winter season, or even in spring like our former world record wind of 231 mph on April 12th, 1934. March, 1942 saw a peak gust of 180 mph, the third highest of our records. Despite the current melt out, we’ve still got a lot of winter left up here on the Rockpile, I’m hoping we haven’t peaked with our winds for the season just yet!

 

Tom Padham, Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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