2016-08-09 07:12:56.000 – Tim Greene, Intern
On the eve of my final day on the summit, I reflect back on the numerous aspects of this internship I am able to take away as I move forward with my career. Let me start by saying I am indebted to the Mount Washington Observatory for the opportunity they extended in selecting me to intern at the legendary Home of the World’s Worst Weather. I got to experience a little bit of everything Mount Washington has to offer this summer; including spectacular sunsets and sunrises, giant lenticular clouds, 100+ mph winds, even snow and rime ice. Before I even received word I would be an intern this summer, my meteorology professor at Virginia Tech and mentor, Dave Carroll, told me “you being able to intern at Mount Washington would be like an aerospace engineering major getting to intern at the International Space Station.” Frankly I couldn’t have put it any better myself; where else could someone experience snow, ice, and Category 2 hurricane-force winds in the middle of June? This is truly an environment unlike any other.
Not that anyone would know without my telling them, but that
is me on the Weather Channel swapping out the precip can
My first time de-icing the instruments on the parapet…on June 9!
AJ and I exploring the snowy and rime-coated summit after the worst of the weather had subsided, again on June 9
Upon my arrival to the summit, I was immediately given the chance to learn the process of taking hourly observations from observer and shift leader, Tom Padham. I stress to non-meteorologists that this is a lot harder than it sounds; all of our observations are written in METAR code, which can turn “partly cloudy” into something like “FEW005 FEW030 SCT160 SCT180 PTCHY VLY FG NW-NE.” My proficiency came in especially helpful when for two shifts in a row we had an observer away on vacation and I could shoulder some of the extra workload. Thanks in large part to Tom’s willingness to teach and also my background in meteorology, I was able to catch on relatively quickly and contribute.
I probably spent the majority of my time working with our shift’s other day observer and IT specialist, Mike Dorfman. Over the course of the summer, I was able to help progress some long-standing projects and make headway on several new topics of research. I admit I didn’t bring much to the table in regards to IT, but with Mike’s guidance I was able to get a lot done and learn more computer skills in the process. Mike deserves a huge amount of credit for having the patience to help me understand the intricacies of the Observatory’s instrumentation and data collection systems. I am confident this knowledge will pay dividends as I transition back into an ongoing Virginia Tech project involving high elevation mesonet sites while working towards my M.S.
Under the tutelage of Ryan Knapp, longtime night observer and photographer extraordinaire, my photography skills took a giant leap forward. With his help I have been able to really capitalize on the awe-inspiring scenery that presents itself regularly up here. I have seen and photographed the Milky Way, the Aurora Borealis, lenticular clouds, and seas of undercast that stretch from one horizon to the other. I thank Ryan for his many teachings and advice.
July 13 sunrise
The faint “Northern Lights” as seen during the wee hours of July 12
The Milky Way plainly visible over the rockpile on a calm June night
While it may be tempting to go hiking some afternoons when we are in the clear (especially since it is encouraged), I refrained from doing so in lieu of absorbing as much information as I could during my short time here. Though not required to do so, I would generally work in excess of 90 hours per shift (which lasts eight days, stretching from Wednesday to Wednesday). I would recommend those who follow in my footsteps to consider doing the same; it is entirely up to you how much you get out of this internship.
I would also like to express my appreciation and extend my sincerest thanks to museum attendant AJ Grimes, along with observers Adam Gill, Caleb Meute, and Mike Carmon for their different roles in helping me to succeed and making my time as an intern both enjoyable and unforgettable. I look forward to continued involvement with the Observatory in the coming years and say thank you one last time.
Our motley crew, sans Tom who was enjoying our Hawaiian night in Hawaii on vacation (from left to right: Meredith Campbell – Intern, Chris Hohman – Intern, myself, our two volunteers that week Marianne and “Curly,” Ryan Knapp, Mike Dorfman, and AJ Grimes)
Tim Greene, Intern