Shoulder Seasons

2016-03-11 17:31:30.000 – Mike Wessler, Summit Intern


With the warm temperatures we’ve been enjoying here at the summit, and the 50’s and 60’s down in the valley and across the state, it’s easy to find myself settled into a springtime state of mind. Walking around the Mt Washington Auto Road parking lot the morning of this week’s shift change and feeling my feet sink ankle deep in the mud was an unusual feeling for early March, but not completely foreign. As an avid backcountry skier, this left me wondering how things were doing up high.
In the shoulder seasons (spring and fall), we’re especially thankful for our transportation team, as the logistics of getting to and from work are more complicated than usual. After the bumpy ride in a four wheel drive van with chains, it’s nice to settle in to the back of the snowcat and enjoy the trip to the summit (with the windows open and a nice warm breeze this time around). The view into various ravines and of exposed snowfields was more typical of May than March, and really stood to highlight just how little snow we’ve had stick around this winter, and just how much precipitation has fallen as rain. It seems it won’t be long before we’re taking the van most of, if not all, the way to the summit.
Since Wednesday, we’ve seen temperatures above freezing for nearly 48 hours before falling back below, leaving the summit as gray and brown as it is white. Since then, snow, sleet, ice pellets, freezing rain, and plenty of riming has restored a more winter-like coat to the top of the rockpile, but hardly enough for even the most enthusiastic skier to dream of making soft, spring corn turns down into Tuckerman’s. Happy to be back below freezing, and treated to 360 degrees of spectacular undercast this morning, it looks as if winter isn’t over quite yet. Looking forward towards mid-March, the upper-level flow sets up in a wide trough over the eastern US with the likelihood of multiple shortwaves rotating through, bringing what may be one of winter’s last hurrahs before giving way to warmer weather for good under the increasingly strong March sun.


Mike Wessler, Summit Intern

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