Oliver Twist with a twist…

2009-03-28 17:09:04.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

It is currently March 28th, which means that March is nearly drawing the curtains to a close. It is a month that is known for coming in like a lion and exiting like a lamb and this couldn’t be truer than this year. As Brian alluded to in his Accuweather Blog yesterday, the summit has seen more sunshine than snowfall these past few weeks. He found that from March 13 until the 26th, the summit has seen an average of 74 percent of possible sunshine minutes. This has been really nice for the hikers seeking the peak and for the observers who work here but for every up there is a down and in this case, if we are receiving so much sunlight, this means we are not receiving our normal snowfall or precipitation.

So how far off are we? As of the 27th, we have only received 2.74″ of precipitation, some 6.68″ off from normal and only 11.8″ of snowfall, some 42.3″ off from normal. With only four days left and only one more significant storm in site, it looks like we will be ending the month with a huge deficit. The thing I keep saying is, this in only one month and we can still spring back, so don’t label winter as done yet. But, with such low totals, I am reminded of chapter two in the book “The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy’s Progress.” In it, a young kid is so hungry that he decides to ask for more food with consequences. So, I have reworked this section and present you with an excerpt from “The Adventures of Ryan Knapp; or the Weather Observers Progress” to reflect my plead for more precipitation. Enjoy!

The summit, on which the observers were housed, was a large pile of rocks with an observatory on one end: out of which the observers, dressed in LL Bean gear for the purpose, and assisted by one or two interns, made weather observations at obs-times. Of this merry composition each year had one snowfall season and no more-except on occasions of rarity, when snowfall would fall during the four and a quarter months of summer.

The summit itself never needed shoveling, apart from the fire exits. The weather polished it with the winds till it shone like a diamond; and when it performed this operation (which never took very long, given the speed at which they blew), the observers would sit staring at the violent weather, with such eager eyes, as if they anticipate every eb and flow of which it was composed; employing themselves, meanwhile, in holding the snow board in the air to determine snowfall most assiduously, with the view of catching up any stray floating flake that might be falling. Ryan Knapp and his companions suffered the tortures of the slow drought for three weeks; at last they got so voracious and wild for precipitation, that one observer, who was average for his age, and hadn’t been used to that sort of thing (for he had been here last season when snowfall was more than abundant), hinted darkly to his companions, that unless the summit had another powerful snow storm, he was afraid he might have to start pulling snow over from Mt. Clay, who happed to be a weakly summit of tender height. He had a wild, eager tone; and they implicitly believed him. A council was held; lots were cast who should walk up to Old Man Winter after the next storm, and ask for more; and it fell to Ryan Knapp.

The storm arrived; the observer took their places. Old Man Winter, in his blue winter overcoat, stationed himself on his cumulonimbus cloud, his pauper elf assistants ranged themselves behind him; the snowfall was served out; and a long breeze was blown over the short pile of rocks that was the summit. The snow settled; the observers whispered to each other, and winked at Ryan, while his neighbors in State Park nudged him. Small as he was, he was desperate for snowfall, and reckless for precipitation. He rose from the weather room to the weather deck; and advancing to Old Man Winter, precipitation can in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

“Please, sir, I want some more.”

Old Man Winter was a thin, frail man; but he turned even more pale than usual. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and clung for support to the cumulonimbus cloud he was perched on. The Mans assistants were paralyzed with wonder; the observers with fear.

“What?!” said Old Man Winter at length, in a faint voice.

“Please, sir,” replied Ryan, “I want some more.”

Old Man Winter aimed a howling blow at Ryan’s head with a cold, quick gust; pinioned him in his arm, and howled aloud for the winter assistant.

The council was sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Nor’easter rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the lady in the high chair, said, “Ms. (Mother) Nature, I beg your pardon, mam! Ryan Knapp has asked for more!”

There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance.

“For MORE!” said Ms. Nature. “Compose yourself, Nor’easter, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had measured the snowfall allotted for this month?”

“He did, mam,” replied Nor’easter.

“That observer will be punished,” said Alberta Clipper in her maple leaf patterned overcoat. “I know that observer will be punished.”

Nobody controverted the weak weather system’s opinion. An animated discussion took place. Ryan was ordered into instant confinement in the weather tower; and a decree the next morning was pasted on the outside of the observatory door, offering a reward of five million dollars to anybody who would take Ryan Knapp off the summit away from the council of weather elders. In other words, five million dollars and Ryan Knapp were offered to any observatory or forecast center who wanted an intern to forecast, observe, or research.

“I never was more convinced of anything in my life,” said Alberta Clipper, as she knocked at the summit door and read the decree the next morning: “I never was more convinced of anything in my life, than I am that the observer will come to be successful.”

As I purpose to show in the sequel whether Alberta Clipper was right or not, I should perhaps mar the interest of this narrative (supposing it to possess any at all), if I ventured to hint just yet, whether the life of Ryan Knapp had this jubilant conclusion or not.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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