My First Week on the Summit

2016-05-25 09:32:31.000 – Emily Schuitema, Summit Intern


Hi, everyone! My name is Emily, and this was my first week working as an intern at Mount Washington Observatory.

I left West Michigan over a week ago and drove to New Hampshire to start my internship. It was my first time in New Hampshire, and consequently my first time seeing Mount Washington. As I drove into the White Mountain National Forest and caught my first view of the snowy and intimidating mountain looming up in front of me, my palms got very sweaty and I suddenly remembered that I was deathly afraid of heights.

I showed up for the first day of work at the base of the Auto Road, full of nerves for the drive up the mountain and for the first day in general. However, my nerves were immediately calmed as people began to introduce themselves to me and assure me that we would make it up to the summit in one piece. And they were right; the drive went smoothly, and I only grabbed the hand of my fellow intern (who I had met about ten minutes before) in a panic one time as I saw a hairpin turn approaching.

Since stepping out of the car and onto Mount Washington, the mountain has become less intimidating to me with every second. It’s really cool to be in a place that has some of the craziest weather with people who love the weather as much as I do. After hearing about the 100+ mile per hour winds that had arrived on the summit the shift before me, I came up to the mountain expecting to see the same. However, my first day brought winds that topped out at…maybe two miles per hour? In the last eight days, the biggest wind gust I observed was just above 40 mph. We saw one snowy day, but other than that, the summit has been mainly in the clear and I’ve been able to clearly see the beautiful view from the top.

Sunset from the summit

Each day of my first shift has been busy and full of learning. The interns started forecasting on our own on the first full day of work. Sitting in the weather room and asking nonstop questions to the observers about different weather systems and models has been very beneficial, and I feel like I’ve learned more about forecasting in just this week than I’ve ever learned in the classroom. In addition to forecasting, I’ve been able to accompany the observers as they go out for their hourly observations, do radio recordings of the daily forecast, and learn about all the instrumentation that we rely on for weather data.

When work was done for the day, there was nothing better than being able to go outside and explore the mountain. I took a lot of walks around the summit, sat outside and read a book, and watched some truly unbelievable sunsets. I even attempted to go for a run on the Auto Road. Jogging down the road was great! Running back up to the summit was a little more challenging. I made it maybe two minutes before I had to admit defeat and walk the rest of the way. My goal for the end of the summer is to be able to run down to the cow pasture and back without stopping – stay tuned for updates!

Emily at the summit sign


Emily Schuitema, Summit Intern

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