2006-12-09 15:39:58.000 – Bryan Farr,  Summit Intern

Checking the Shelter Temps

Now that we are no less than two weeks away from the official start of winter, it is appropriate that the weather decides to reflect what the calendar says. Many of us here on the summit as well as you, our avid readers, have commented on the warmth, snow and then lack of snow, high winds and just how is life going on the summit. I know that some of you like to enjoy the beauty of Mt. Washington on a warm summer day or even some of you are from a distant location. We strive with our comments and “Live from the Rockpile” video conferences to give glimpse of what life is like here on the summit and what we do. Then there are just those events, that with the aide of a portable video camera, we can capture some of the true and behind the scenes aspects of life on the rockpile and share them with everyone!

When the sky cleared for several hours Friday afternoon, Neil and I ventured outside to literally do our jobs, observing. Here is what we observed…

80 mph winds ripping across the summit gusting to 100 mph picking up all of the fresh fallen snow and whipping it 40feet plus into the air. (Note that this video has not been sped up, this is in real-time.)

As we looked Northeast, toward Wildcat mountain, a large lenticular cloud was positioned overhead, these clouds are indicative of great turbulence in the air aloft especially over the mountain itself. We code these in our observations as ACSL .

When the sun shines, regardless of how cold it is, it is always nice to go out on the deck, here, Neil Lareau, is slinging a psycrometer to determine temperature and a wet bulb temperature to determine the dew point. The summit of Mount Washington can be seen in the back. We found the temperature to be -7F (-22C), Windchill -44F, with several layers of clouds overhead.

Next an observation is not complete without a walk around the observation deck to get the best possible picture, visibility was about 50 miles . The wind was sustained at 75 mph from the north , that is hurricane force and during this observation the wind gusted to 94 mph, which literally ,knocked Neil off of his feet and slid him across the deck several feet.

Eventually all of our observation data gets coded and sent to the National Weather Service. This is our complete observation:

KMWN 081756Z 34064G82KT 50SM BLSN SCT/// SCT000 SCT030 SCT080 SCT100 M22/M24RMK VIS SW-NW 1 ACSL NE-SE TPS LWR SCT050
In short it indicates our location, KMWN, the date and time of December 8 at 1756 UTC. The wind was from the North at 340 degrees at 64 knots gusting to 82 knots. Our visibility was 50 miles with blowing snow. The next section is the cloud section. The SCT/// indicates scattered clouds below the summit then various levels of scattered clouds above us. The temperature was -22 C with a dew point of -24. The visibility was limited from the southwest to the north west and there were lenticular clouds to the north and east. The tops of the clouds below the summit were at 5000 feet.

This is just a glimpse of an exciting day on the mountain, we hope you enjoyed the videos and maybe just maybe you can get a sense of the bitter cold, but also the enjoyment we get by working at “The Home of the World’s Worst Weather”.


Bryan Farr,  Summit Intern

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