2009-03-06 22:28:38.000 – Mike Carmon, Observer
The theme of the last few comments has been primarily weather-related. It’s true that there is a lot more going on up here than that. But the fact is, if the weather on the summit wasn’t consistently worthy of our awe and ruminations, none of us would be up here in the first place. So I’m going to take a risk here and talk about weather again (but I promise to try and spice things up with a bit of drama, humanity, and a few mentions of our feline friend, Marty).
I had the unfortunate luck of catching a cold in the waning days of my last off week, and was hoping to get rid of it before returning to the summit this past Wednesday. Imagine my dismay when I checked the forecast on the eve of my return and noticed temperatures on Wednesday would average near a frosty -10 with winds in the 50-70 mph range. This is not exactly great weather for bolstering one’s immune system. The interesting part is that the normal average temperature for that date, March 3rd, is 10 degrees above zero!
Wednesday night was an extremely long and bitterly cold one, but I had an unexpected visitor to keep things interesting. At around 3:15 a.m., I was engrossed in writing a forecast, concentrating intently on the computer screen in front of me. I was particularly immersed because of the need for our German guests to depart on Saturday morning. The weather room was silent, and out of nowhere, a black Maine coon leapt up onto the desk, landing just to the right of the monitor my eyes were fixed on. I probably let out a few phrases that I won’t share with you here, but Marty didn’t seem to care. He plopped down right in front of the computer screen and stared up at me with those ‘innocent’ eyes.
Let’s fast forward to right now (at least, the moment I’m writing this comment). The digital readout behind me is reading 34.2 degrees. What is the normal average temperature for this date? A mere 11 degrees above zero. Our official minimum temperature two days ago was -16 degrees, and our high today will be at least 34 degrees. That comes out to a 50 degree swing in less than 48 hours!
This is the first time I personally have experienced temperatures above the freezing mark on the summit since December. There are many intriguing dangers associated with above-freezing temperatures on an ice-covered summit amidst winds over 50 mph. As one can imagine, chunks of ice are swirling around in the wind, which will make observations and trips to the precip can mighty fun tonight. But it’s all part of the job, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
So to close things out, tonight is the last night our German friends will be with us. What does the mountain have up its sleeve for their final evening on the summit? Try winds around 90 mph with gusts over 100 mph. They should die off quickly tomorrow and the summit will clear out so that our snow cat will be able to make the trip up to retrieve them. But not before putting on one last show.
Mike Carmon, Observer