Spring Shift Change Shuffle

2012-03-28 23:55:42.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Cow Pasture Lenticulars.

This past week off in the valley was pretty bizarre weather-wise, going from record heat in the 70s and 80s when we first got down on the 21st to temperatures in 20s and nearly 2 inches of new snow on the ground as I left my house this morning to come back up. This mix of weather also made for an interesting shift change as every vehicle in our fleet was utilized to get up. We started with our 4×4 van with chains on from the base of the mountain until 4 mile park when we switched to our snow tractor. While most of the road could be done in a 4×4 vehicle, stretches along miles 4 and 5 of the nearly 8 mile length of the road, are still under several feet of snow. Above this stretch though, there isn’t enough snow to use the snow tractor on. So this past week, NH State Park and our snow tractor operators pushed and pulled our 4×4 trucks up past the 4 and 5 mile drifts to utilize for the final stretch of the road (a video of this, shot by NH State Parks, can be seen here).

So, we hoped in our snow tractor for the very short distance to where our truck was parked. It felt very reminiscent of the ‘Wonka Mobile’ scene from ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’. In that scene, they all loaded onto this bizarre machine that only goes a short distance and at the end, one of parents asks ‘You mean that’s as far as it goes?’ which prompted her kid to ask ‘Couldn’t we have just walked?’ Willy Wonka then returns with ‘If the good lord intended us to walk, he wouldn’t have invented roller-skates.’ I imagined that if we asked the same questions, Slim, our snow tractor operator, would have returned with a similar quip about the snow tractor. Once past the drifts, we finished up the trip by loading up the back of the truck with people and supplies for the final stretch to the summit. I volunteered for the second truck ride up for more space and for a bit of time to enjoy the sights of the continually changing skies full of lenticulars. It left me awestruck and felt like the innards of a lava lamp all around us.

Once we arrived on the summit, the dynamic skies around us disappeared, as the all-to-familiar sight of grays and whites have made a return. While we left the summit a week ago in a summer frame of mind, this shift is starting off with a full return to winter with fog, snow, winds and cold. In fact, there is even a chance of a record low being set in the coming days. Just when you think you have the mountain figured out, it turns around and does its own thing. But, it’s these dynamic shifts in weather that keeps me on my toes and makes me want to come back week after week for the past six years and more to come.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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