January thoughts.

2010-02-02 18:46:35.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

An artistic look at the 7 stages of grief?

January can produce some the best winter weather on the summit. In the past, it has produced highs of 47F (1995) and record lows for the station and the state of 47 below zero (1934). It has seen 94.6 inches of snow in one month (1978) and winds as high as 173 mph (1985). This years January is not one of those months. In fact, January was kind of a downer on many levels.

Let me highlight some of things that dragged January down. The temperature, however, was about the only positive note as it was 3.4 degrees warmer than normal which isn’t bad given how many cold stretches we had. But then comes the bad news. The melted precipitation totaled 2.44 inches which was 6.08 inches below normal. But even that pales in comparison to the 18.4 inches of snowfall that fell leaving a deficit of 34.4 inches below normal. The deficit as a result has left our seasonal total some 48.6 inches below normal. Not as bad as past years but not optimal for this time of year. We had 30 days of some amount of fog with only 31 percent of available sunshine hitting us. Winds were also lacking as the average winds were some 10 mph below normal. The lack of winds meant we only had 15 days above 73 mph (category 1) and one day with winds over 100 mph. And it took 30 days for us to get that 100 mph wind from the last one. Usually in the winter we average a 100 mph gust 1 out of every 4 days. So that was a long time without high winds. Couple this with the lost of our world record wind, and it was really not a good month as far as winds go.

But while I am on the topic of our record lost, I would like to thank everyone that has emailed us expressing their shock and their feelings for our lost. I have been answering a lot of your emails this week which has allowed me time to reflect on all that has happened. In reflecting, I think back to my child development class in college and how we touched upon the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle (which is mostly known as the 5 stages of grief although most people use 7) and how we can use them to understand and facilitate changes in our lives. So, let me summarize my experiences with these 7 stages:

Shock Stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news. This occurred for me on Friday the 22nd when I was reading a western weather forum. I thought, it would be similar to the other challenges I have seen to the record since arriving here. But then Monday the 25th rolled around and the news was confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which lead me to the…

Denial Stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable. There’s no way this is true, it had to be some mistake which lead me to the…

Anger Stage: Frustrated ourpouring of bottled up emotions. Someone had to been paid off by Chevron (who now owns the island). The anemometer had to have had a flaw. Their calibration procedure seems weak. The data had to be tampered with. This has to be a mistake like the wind on Guam during Typhoon Paka. 14 years? Really? But then I read the write up which lead me to the…

Bargaining Stage: Seeking a way out. It had to be caused by a tornado or a roof pitch. Maybe it isn’t finalized and it can get recategorized as a tornado caused wind or something. But as time passed and I was able to read the write up calmly, leading me to the…

Depression Stage: Realizing the inevitable. While there is still a chance things could change and it could get recategorized, everything that I know about meteorology leads me to think it might be true. The state lost the Old Man of the Mountain and now the Big Wind. But by answering emails this week, I found my way to the…

Testing Stage: Seeking realistic solutions. We haven’t given up yet as we (as an organization) are still looking over the data. And if the record does hold we still can claim that we have the highest observed wind (since the station was manned at the time the wind occurred), the highest wind in the western hemisphere, the highest wind in the northern hemisphere and home of some of the worst weather on the planet. And it is with these that I can hold my head up high and move to the…

Acceptance Stage: Finding a way to move forward. I got to this point by answering all the emails we got this week. I was reminded that unlike the Aussie station, there are people up here which gives our weather a bit of a personality and soul with it. The story behind the 231 mph wind is a better read than how an automated station captured a high wind. And when the next big wind occurs, whether it be a personal record (159 mph for me), a station record of 232 mph or a new world record, there will be people here measuring it, experiencing it, and relaying it for the world to see. And when that does occur, hopefully you will all be around to revel in the experience as we write about here in our comments.

Observer’s Footnote: In celebration Groundhog’s Day (by the way, he saw his shadow extending winter 6 more weeks) we posted an Obscast from two years ago to our Youtube account with my crew demonstrating how we determine how long winter will be. An Obscast is a weekly video we post every Monday on a large range of topics. If you liked the video and are a member, you have access to over 100 videos we have done over the past three years for your viewing pleasure.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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