Shift change reflections

2011-01-05 23:18:27.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Some Wednesday shift changes are mundane, easy, and very “by the book”. Today was not exactly one of those shift change days. Most would assume that the weather played a role in making this shift change unusual and you would be partially correct. But the weather had nothing to do with the physical changing of the crews. We got up and the other crew down in average time on this foggy, windy and cold Wednesday. But the weather did play a role in other ways for the delirium that was today’s shift change.

The first was a positive weather effect, the winds of change (meteorological footnote: not an actual wind). As you may have read in past observer comments, facebook postings, or press releases, our gear provider is now Eastern Mountain Sports. For the other crew, this change started on January first but for our crew, we didn’t get our gear until today since we were off and about all last week. So when we arrived at the maintenance garage this morning it was off with the red and into hues of black, blue and golden rod (I think but being color blind I might be way off). Although we had known about this deal for a while and had tried everything on last fall, I still felt like a kid at Christmas unwrapping each new piece of clothing. It definitely started the shift change off on a positive note.

The other two headliners for the day which weren’t nearly as positive were our stove/oven and our anemometers issues and all things tied to them. As someone put it today “if it requires heat on the summit, odds are it’s not working today”. While this statement isn’t entirely true there was a grain of truth in it. Let’s start with the stove/oven. Our stove/oven has been having lighting issues once again this year. The technician has been coming up and testing theories out left and right to little to no avail even calling in technicians from other regions. But he still hasn’t discovered what’s wrong with it. But we are giving him serious props for taking the time out of his schedule in coming up here and trying everything he can. But as of now, it is currently being filed under a work in progress until his next trip up.

The same “work in progress” label goes for our pitot-tube static anemometer system up here. Stacey pretty much brought you all up to date in yesterdays comment so I won’t delve back into that again. But we are aiming for a Saturday replacement so fingers crossed. The good news is (as SK mentioned yesterday) we have mounted a relic from the past and have it operating so at least we know what winds we are facing when we go out. But one ripple is being seen in that our Current Summit Conditions page since it cannot operate with the configuration of this older anemometer. So this means weather junkies will not be able to get their instantaneous weather fix for the time being. This has caused a few emails and forum posts about their discoveries. So, we are aware of the issue and if you need to know the winds once an hour, you can still check them out on our front page, our weather page, or any page you are familiar with that posts our hourly METAR’s.

We also believe another ripple effect is being felt in our statistics. Now, I haven’t had any time since arriving today to start looking into this but over the coming days, it is one of my goals to see how taking our pitot off-line maybe affecting our stats. It may partially affect our statistics in the past month or so but the larger concern that I am going to be looking at is how it may be affecting our Model Output Statistics that we and others use for forecast guidance. While this mornings numbers seemed grossly off as far as wind speeds go, it appears that things are starting to “smooth out” in the numbers since model initialization seems to be doing better this evening. So, until further research, I will file this under the “work in progress” file as well.

So while some things went exactly as planned (the trip up, the turnover to Eastern Mountain Sports, shift change, etc) some things did not (stove, anemometer, MOS, etc). So as I reflect on the negative things I remind myself of something I relay to all new volunteers up here: “We are miles from anything so if you run out of something or break something, you have to think with a positive spirit, work with what you got, and continue on the best you can until next Wednesday (or until we can get a trip up with something you drastically need).” So that is my goal for the week, keep my spirits high, work with what we got, and hope for the best in our plans for the week ahead. And like always, we’ll keep you posted on how things work out in the days ahead.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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