Life as a Summit Intern

2013-07-12 08:29:25.000 – Luke Davis,  Summit Intern

Passing Storm on June 29th

Adjusting to life on the rockpile has been a unique experience. While up here, you quickly become accustomed to a busy schedule.

I wake up around 6AM and get to work no later than 7AM. It’s time to start on the research project, which is how the majority of the day will be spent. Between data mining, which can require coding, extensive data analysis with excel, researching important external information, and producing presentable results, there’s always something to do. Sometimes, I’ll hit a wall. Other times, I’ll hit a major breakthrough, and it’s impossible to tear myself away from the computer. And at other times, there’s a steady amount of work to do that will bug me until it’s finished before I can even attempt to draw conclusions. I have about three hours of retail duty per day — once at around 10, again at 1, and again just before the end of the day. At around 3, it’s time to create and record the higher summits short-term forecast to be broadcast over the visitor information radio station, and posted to our website. For this I’ll look at the model numbers, several maps output by the models, and NOAA’s regional outlook. Whenever there’s spare time, I’ll get some work done on the project. But each day is never exactly the same as the next. Sometimes there are routine weather summaries or other short articles to write, or sometimes we’ll need to manage things on our website and facebook page. Sometimes, and most importantly, members come up to get tours or our facility. These are usually pretty fun, and give me the opportunity to try to get visitors as interested and enthusiastic about the observatory and the science behind the atmosphere as I am.

On days with steady precipitation or thick fog, I might never step outside. We all goof around more on these days to keep ourselves sane. On days with fair weather, if I have time, a quick late afternoon hike to Clay, Monroe, or through the Alpine Gardens is always an option. Working on top of a mountain, all of us at the observatory have a passion for the great outdoors. And on the most exciting days, if something’s happening outside, we’ll all be gathered around the windows and the radar display, or snapping some photos on the deck. Whether late spring riming or sleet, an approaching thunderstorm complex, a particularly breathtaking sunset, interesting cloud formations popping up, a break in the fog after being socked in for several days, or unusually high winds, a week never seems to pass without a few moments of drama.

By 7PM, the day is over. It’s time for dinner at 8, and bed by around 10. Before you know it, Tuesday is here, clean-up day for our quarters. And on Wednesday, after participating in a few meetings before noon, it’s time to head down so that the other shift can take over. I won’t come back up until the next Wednesday morning — and with so much going on when we’re on shift, it’s hard sometimes to adjust to so many days off. I can go hiking if the heat isn’t too much to bear, visit family and friends, travel for a few days, or just try to relax. But by the end of the week, I’m always ready to come back up. My time at the observatory will probably be over before I know it, but it’s already been an adventure.

 

Luke Davis,  Summit Intern

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