Some much needed outside time!
2010-03-01 12:34:41.000 – Brian Clark, Observer and Meteorologist
My favorite shot from yesterday
As Ryan wrote in his comment on Saturday, things have been a little ‘different’ this shift. He described how things have been different as far as work schedule goes, but the weather has also been very different this week in several ways.
First of all, it has snowed. A lot. Now this isn’t something that is necessarily different from what is would normally like on Mount Washington this time of year, but it is certainly different than what it has been like on Mount Washington lately. Consider this: from January 1st to February 23rd (54 days) we measured only 33.0 inches of snow with no more than 3.6 inches falling in one day. That may seem like a lot of snow to most people, but keep in mind that in an average year, we would see upwards of 80-90 inches of snow in that same time period. Now consider this: from February 24 to February 28 (5 days, all on our shift) we measured 32.8 inches of snow. Pretty incredible.
Also very different this week was the wind direction. Typically our winds come from some sort of westerly direction (southwest, west, or northwest) and the Sherman Adams State Park building that we are housed in was certainly designed with that in mind. Throughout our current shift, the vast majority of the time was spent with winds coming from the east, putting all that snow in some unusual places. We had piles of snow inside the tower that had to be shoveled back outside, only to have it come back in again. We spent hours shoveling drifts up to 6 feet tall, several days in a row. We also had to deice our anemometer in 100+ sustained winds which is made even more difficult the by east winds.
The east winds also deposited a ton of snow in very unusual places around the mountain on a much larger scale. We were able to see this yesterday when snow stopped and fog cleared for the first time since Wednesday. Bright sunshine shone down on a beautiful undercast and wind speeds went below 10 mph. We (the summit crew) knew we had to take advantage and get out to explore a little bit. So, Nick, Mike, volunteers Paul and Althea Goundrey, and myself headed down the north side of the mountain towards the Great Gulf. We immediately found that there was a buttery smooth layer of powder on top of the feet upon feet that had been drifted earlier in the storm(s). In fact, the cog tracks had been buried by a giant snowfield! When we got down to the , we were all awestruck by how much snow there was. The gully that the Great Gulf trail resides in got completely filled in, all the way down to Spaulding Lake. The snow looked incredibly inviting, but none of us had any avalanche gear (beacons, probes, shovels, etc.) and we knew that avalanche danger was very elevated, so we made the decision to stick to some lower angle terrain.
We ended up taking three laps on a 100-150 vertical foot slope, literally a few hundred feet away from the Observatory. I have never seen this particular pitch filled in like this before. We were all smiles when we headed back to work. This was a great reward after 4 days of endless shoveling, deicing, and battling the severe weather and was also a reminder of how beautiful this place can be and how lucky we are to call it home!
One more thing. Head over to the Observatory’s YouTube page to check out video from yesterday.
Brian Clark, Observer and Meteorologist