My Introduction to Mt. Washington

2017-09-04 10:32:44.000 – Greg Cornwell, Summit Intern


My name is Greg Cornwell and I will be a Mount Washington Summit Intern this Fall. I completed my Meteorology and Information Technology degrees at Central Michigan University in December 2015. Before this, my interest in weather first came about when I was young and absolutely petrified of a clear breezy day or the sight of dark clouds. I believed all that was needed for nightmarish tornadoes was rain and wind. If both were occurring, I feared that I could be swept away at any time.

Growing up, fear turned to curiosity.

My first forecasting experience was in high school. Classmates knew about my fascination with weather and I anticipated the daily flurry of questions along the lines of, “are we going to have a snowday?” My reply usually was, “I forecast snow, not snowdays!” One of my good friends suggested hitting the blogosphere. Creating my own forecast discussions and event summaries improved my knowledge and understanding of weather. It made me double check how atmospheric processes are understood. While praise can be won following a good forecast, applying and conveying the correct science is what made the task rewarding for myself and readers.

In college, forecasting was part of class lab work as well as the WxChallenge. I performed these tasks with guidance from the great professors at CMU. It opened my eyes how advancement of instrumentation and computing has allowed us to better monitor extreme weather and more accurately forecast it. By senior year, we had a small group of students forecasting for the football team as they hosted home games and traveled away.

After school I traveled to Maine for a seasonal IT position at Acadia National Park. While not on my preferred weather track, I learned a lot about computer systems in an operational environment. Part of the job was supporting workplace technology for scientists with the National Park Service. Being around raw data, science, and research made me miss the environment I was immersed in at school. I began searching for a position that offered those qualities and have found it here at the Mount Washington Observatory!

Parapet with RimeFigure 1. The parapet with morning sun under broken clouds ahead of post-tropical cyclone Harvey

I’m looking forward to experiencing all the observatory has to offer. I could not ask for better mentors of the mountain than my shift observers. They have been there for any questions and guidance through a busy start of my tenure! Through the first 72 hours, I experienced a clear sunset, the summit in the clouds, and winter firing an early warning shot with rime ice, 94mph gusts, and wind chills approaching zero. As we enter meteorological fall, it is only just beginning!

Rime ice on binocularsFigure 2. Rime ice accumulations on the observatory deck binoculars. The first riming event included 94 mph gusts and wind chills in the single digits.


Greg Cornwell, Summit Intern

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