2009-10-01 05:28:03.000 – Mike Carmon, Staff Meteorologist
Black & White
September is officially history, and October is here! But in the wake of a relatively dry first 29 days, September decided to wait until its curtain had nearly closed to bring our first snowflakes of the season.
Generally the first measurable snowfall of the season is witnessed in September (the average monthly total is 2.2″). Last year, however, our inaugural flakes held off until October 2nd, giving the summit its first snow-less September since 2004. This year nearly made it two in a row, but at approx. 5:45 PM EDT yesterday, with the daylight hours waning and only 6 hours until the turn of the calendar page, tiny snow grains began their subtle descent.
The snow lasted for under two hours, and accumulation fell short of a single tenth of an inch, but it was enough to coat the fresh September ice in a thin layer of fluff. Not nearly enough to bust out the snow shovels, but it was enough to transform the summit landscape into a brilliant white. When opening the door to the observation deck, we are now met with a certain chill that has not been felt for months. The crunch of rime underneath our feet has replaced the sounds of cog whistles (temporarily) and we’ve traded sunglasses for crowbars as de-icing season has returned. The two shifts have already begun vying for the honor of being on the summit for the first 100 mph wind gust. Our shift has come closest so far with 91 mph on September 19th.
Then there is the change in transportation. So far, the road has remained warm enough that icing has not been an issue for our 4 wheel drive van. But soon, we’ll be throwing chains on those tires, and then we’ll follow a few weeks of chaining with our winter Snow Cat rides. And of course, this is all weather-dependent. Despite the inch or so of rime ice that has blanketed the summit, temperatures are expected to reach into the upper 40s this weekend, with plenty of rain to accompany, which will leave nearly no trace of this latest taste of what’s to come.
In the meantime, daylight continues to succumb to the nighttime hours as the first day of winter quickly and somewhat surreptitiously approaches.
Mike Carmon, Staff Meteorologist