2010-10-08 23:49:04.000 – Mike Carmon, Staff Meteorologist
I write to you this evening a somewhat disappointed young observer (the youngest, in fact. But I digress…). With all of this talk of good weather vs. bad weather shift, I was hoping our crew would get a major leg up yesterday in this epic struggle.
Indeed we did, as we received nearly an inch (.8″) of frozen precipitation (in the form of snow and ice pellets) and witnessed an impressive glaze icing event, accumulating nearly 3″ per hour at times during the nighttime hours. And then, the winds ramped up, bringing us painfully close to a distinguished honor that would have made us clear front-runners in the skirmish between shifts.
I am, of course, speaking of the honor of being the first crew to hit the milestone 100 mph mark for this winter season, which I think we can agree has officially commenced. Despite witnessing three gusts to an impressive 98 mph, Mother Nature decided to hold the elusive landmark wind gust for a later date. Despite this foundered opportunity, the 98 mph is the highest gust since the opposite shift recorded 129 mph on February 26 earlier this year (An interesting aside–this gust was part of the same storm system that blew a 132 mph gust over the summit the prior day. Footage of Brian Clark de-icing with his legs secured by fellow observers in these monster winds can be seen on our youtube site).
Even though we didn’t hit the century mark this time around, there were plenty of winds to be had, as can be seen by the Hays Chart pictured above. This chart is also a classic example of how quickly Mt. Washington’s temper can take a turn for the worse. You’ll notice that a mere 17 hours before winds were flirting with the century mark by way of those 98 mph gusts, wind speeds were averaging a measly 9 mph. As I put up one of our low wind speed anemometers during that placid period, I admitted to myself how I’m still incredibly fascinated with this aspect of the mountain–that, despite the eerily dead quiet conditions at the time, in a matter of hours, winds would be creeping up towards hurricane force with a great roar. It’s a great lesson to all of you prospective winter hikers–conditions can take a turn for the worse in a hurry, so always be prepared.
Since yesterday’s return of winter, we’ve seen all types of precipitation–rain, freezing rain, ice pellets, and snow–as temperatures have taunted the 32 degree benchmark for the entire day today. And glancing ahead at the long range models through Wednesday, winter won’t be loosening its grip anytime soon. Let’s hope this trend continues for the duration of the winter season!
Mike Carmon, Staff Meteorologist