My New Home on the Rockpile
2015-01-25 18:33:17.000 – Adam Freierman, Summit Intern
Two months ago, when I applied for the winter internship here on the summit, I was spending my days excavating 20 million year old horse and caiman fossils in the sweltering humidity of the banks of the Panama Canal. Sitting in my non-air-conditioned apartment while listening to a tropical thunderstorm thrash the tin roof, I tried to fathom the snow, cold, and hurricane force winds that I might expect on top of Mt. Washington. My imagination let me down.
Growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I have been familiar with the White Mountains and their notoriety for sudden, extreme weather from a young age. In recent years, exploring Mount Washington and Katahdin as a backcountry snowboarder, I became enticed by this opportunity to live in and learn about this environment in the continuity of spending a week on the summit at a time. My first shift week has brought a taste of everything. I have seen fine days with views into upstate New York, had 80 mph winds steal my mitten as rime ice covered my clothes, and watched a storm slide away just in time for one of the most spectacular sunsets.
With a background in geology, botany, and paleontology, I came to the Observatory hoping to expand my knowledge of weather and climate. I find the interactions between the different disciplines of natural sciences particularly interesting, and hope to build on my understanding of how meteorology ties in with these other parts of the picture. Shadowing our weather observer, Caleb Meute, while he explained to a group of climbers how the topography of the White Mountains funnels storms right over Mount Washington, I can already see that this will be a fruitful four months for me.
In this first week I have been learning how weather observations made here at the Observatory contribute to weather models and predictions, and how we can use those models to provide more accurate forecasts for the higher summits. This is exactly the type of practical knowledge I hoped to gain here, things that will be endlessly useful in my continued exploration of the mountains. If our forecasts are as accurate as they usually are, I’ll get an extra day on the summit on Wednesday to enjoy the looming Nor’easter.
Adam Freierman, Summit Intern