So. Much. Weather.
2017-04-10 07:25:35.000 – Caleb Meute, Weather Observer & Meteorologist
Well this has sure been a spring-like week here on the Rockpile with plenty of different conditions featured. On our trip up last Wednesday, the Snowcat encountered some massive snowdrifts which resulted from nearly a foot of snow that fell on Tuesday. As the day progressed on Wednesday, temperatures climbed above freezing, reaching a high of 36 degrees Fahrenheit. These above-seasonable temperatures remained intact through Wednesday night prior to dropping just below the freezing mark on Thursday.
If you remember my comment from the last shift, I talked about glaze ice and how Adam and Mike had to deal with significant glaze ice accrual during the day which I luckily missed out on. I then mentioned that I hoped to not jinx myself into having to deal with much glaze this week. Turns out, I in fact did jinx things. On Thursday night, Mother Nature comically threw a whole lot of glaze my way. Freezing rain combined with freezing fog and thick glaze coated the summit, several inches thick. Typically, during the transitional months, storms progressing through New England will lead to a mixture of precipitation with freezing rain and glaze ice a common occurrence.
Sun poking through the clouds and thick glaze and rime ice encasing the A-Frame.
Full-fledged winter conditions returned during the day on Friday, with an extreme upslope snow event that quickly turned the summit a powdery white again. Persistent bands of snow showers set up directly over the Whites, and snow fell all day on Saturday dropping a total of 11 inches before tapering early Saturday night. Strong winds accompanied the falling snow leading to dense blowing snow that dropped visibility as low as ten feet at times. Massive snowdrifts returned and made things quite interesting for us, especially when venturing to the precipitation can. Generally, when we go to collect the precipitation can, we exit through the main entrance of the Sherman Adams Building, and the building acts to block the wind for a portion of our walk when the winds are from the west or northwest direction. Yesterday when I opened the front door, the snow was more than halfway up the door. This creates problems for us because walking through compact snowdrifts is, well, impossible. The alternate path to the precipitation can takes us out through the observation deck and around the Sherman Adams Building, which is entirely exposed to the winds when they are blowing from the west or northwest. When the winds are not too strong this is not a big deal, but last night when I ventured to the can the winds were sustained around 80 mph with gusts exceeding 100 mph. On top of this, the visibility had dropped to around 10 feet which was extremely disorienting. Along my path to the can, there were snowdrifts scattered across the summit cone that were well above my head making navigation difficult. GPS kept rerouting me… When I made the decision to return to working for the Mount Washington Observatory, I was obviously hoping for some extreme winters. The winter of 2016-2017 has certainly not let me down!
Snow drift at the main entrance of the Sherman Adams Building.
Now conditions atop the Rockpile are looking to make another significant turn with a major warm-up expected today and tomorrow. High temperatures will soar through the 40s, possibly reaching 50 degrees. The record high temperature for April 10th is 52°F which was set in 1945 and the record high for April 11th is 54° which was also set in 1945. As I am looking at the daily record highs for April, it looks like in 1945 there were 5 days straight (9th – 13th) with daily record highs set! I wonder what the snowpack was like on the summit April 14th, 1945…
This week has sure been interesting! We have had beautiful sunrises and sunsets, prolonged periods of freezing rain, rain and 30 consecutive hours of upslope snow showers while winds gusted over 100 mph. Now to conclude our shift, we are anticipating this major warmup with rain showers and the possibility of thunderstorms. Spring truly ushers in a very wide range of weather conditions here atop the Rockpile!
Caleb Meute, Weather Observer & Meteorologist