Second Snowiest December on Record!

2017-01-01 21:19:13.000 – Caleb Meute, Weather Observer / Meteorologist


Well December 2016 was a bit snowier than December 2015 and just about every other December since our establishment in 1932 for that matter. 93.6 inches of snow fell on the summit this past month which falls 10.1 inches short of the snowiest December on record which was in 1968 when 103.7 inches fell. That makes this past December the second snowiest on record! 1968 actually marked the snowiest winter on record with 566 inches falling. I know that up here on the summit, we observers are certainly hoping that this winter rivals that of 1968. I think all of the New England ski resorts would also be okay with that, unless they don’t like money, or people, or keeping the trails groomed.  

I have really been enjoying this winter so far up here, especially considering I took a break from working for the Observatory and returned to Pennsylvania for a year. While I was back in Pennsylvania, we did get a remarkable snowstorm, but it really fails in comparison to any big snow events we receive here on the summit. I will take this past Nor’easter as an example. The track that the center of the low ended up taking was a bit further east than initially forecasted which affected our snowfall totals. While we did end up receiving over 20 inches of snow, the real story and what made this event truly intense was the high winds combined with thick fog and blowing snow. While the storm was lashing out on New England, the winds began to pick up on the summit overnight at an astounding rate. I was feeling rather underwhelmed by the storm for the hours leading up to my overnight precipitation can collection, but that would quickly change. Winds swiftly accelerated prior to me venturing to the can, becoming sustained just shy of hurricane force with higher gusts. I have heard the other observers talking about how intense and disorienting it can be during these types of storms, but this was my first true exposure. With falling snow combined with thick fog and blowing snow, the visibility at times can fall so low that it is hard to tell what direction you are even walking. I paid careful attention to walk in a straight line to the can, but with the winds whipping and snowdrifts up to my waist it became so difficult to focus on everything. Your brain can so quickly become confused and overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are some lights around the Sherman Adams Building that I could dimly make out and was able to keep in my peripheral sight. When I thought I was about at the edge of the building and had 100 feet or so to reach the front door, I suddenly realized I was actually at the front door and about to walk right past it…

We are certainly hoping that this active weather pattern continues through January so we can keep piling onto the already significant snowpack across the White Mountains. A potent storm system will move through New England Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday. Unfortunately, the likely scenario with this system will be for precipitation to fall as a mixed batch with an increasing chance for significant ice accumulations Tuesday night as warmer air looks to accompany the storm.


Caleb Meute, Weather Observer / Meteorologist

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