2010-01-26 20:02:35.000 – Cara Rudio,  Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Not such a g’day, mate!

For once, the big news on Mount Washington isn’t our extreme weather.

Sadly, it’s about how our extreme weather–our world record wind speed, to be exact–was outdone by that of a warm, tropical island…

According to a report released Friday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a new world record wind speed was recorded on April 10, 1996 at an unmanned station in Barrow Island, Australia during Typhoon Olivia. According to the report, the new record stands at 253 mph, far surpassing the Observatory’s record of 231 mph.

As the Observatory’s marketing and communications coordinator, I’ve been fielding all sorts of inquiries from media outlets and Obs fans alike. One question that seems to be on everyone’s mind is: “why the heck did this take 14 years to figure out??”

The quick answer is that it didn’t: the record has been there all along. It was recorded by the Barrow Island station when it occurred, but not publicized until the WMO evaluation panel stumbled upon it while conducting a review of world records.

I know, this probably seems crazy, but taken in the context of our own day-to-day operations here at the Observatory, it’s surprisingly unsurprising.

As a marketing person, I am constantly publicizing our extreme weather and praising the work of the hardy crew that must withstand its wrath on a daily basis. To me, and to most of the general public, our weather is absolutely remarkable, and the men and women who live and work in it are practically heroes.

And yet, when speaking with our summit crew after a significant weather event (usually to get a quote for an e-newsletter or press release) I am frequently amazed (and deflated!) by their lack of drama regarding the event.

“What do you mean the -67 wind chill was just ‘a bit chilly’??!! How can you say you weren’t terrified when you had to go up in the tower in 97 mph winds??!!”

To me, these people are intrepid adventurers–brave, strong, and perhaps a bit crazy. But to one another, they are co-workers and friends, performing the duties of their jobs without fanfare or incident. Sure, -67 is cold, and sure, it’s difficult to work in 97 mph winds, but they’re not going to call the local newspaper to brag about it.

(One of many reasons I could never be a scientist!)

I can’t help but think that this attitude is probably shared by many scientists around the world. Their daily routines revolve around things that the rest of us would find utterly amazing, but for them it’s just another day at the office. And when something unusual happens, their first order of business is to verify the data-not call the Associated Press.

Of course all of this is just my own hypothesizing, and like the rest of you, I look forward to learning more about the specifics of the WMO’s investigation. Indeed, the field of science itself is based upon the pursuit of knowledge, and we are proud to be included in such an exciting quest.

We’ll keep you posted on our findings. Thanks for all the support!


Cara Rudio,  Marketing and Communications Coordinator

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