Starting Out Life at 6,288 Feet

By George Mousmoules

Hey everyone, I’m George Mousmoules and am very excited to be one of this year’s summer interns here at the Observatory! Though I was born in southern California, I have lived in southern New Hampshire for most of my life. Growing up, I would frequently vacation with my family throughout northern New England, and am no stranger to the White Mountains and the extreme weather they are known for. It was during one of these visits that I witnessed my first hailstorm, and ever since then I have had an obsession with all things weather. Ultimately this passion led me to pursue a career in the atmospheric sciences that has thus far been extremely rewarding. I graduated from Plymouth State University this past May with my B.S in meteorology and will be returning this fall for my masters in applied meteorology.

During my time as an undergraduate, I was fortunate enough to study alongside amazing classmates and talented professors. I completed research into mesoscale snow banding in nor’easters, trends in coastal temperature and wind behavior, atmospheric river development and impacts, and conducted an investigation into the cause of the infamous July 23, 2008 EF-2 tornado that struck southeastern New Hampshire. I am thrilled to be able to continue my research into atmospheric phenomena as I begin work on studying late season significant snow events here in the White Mountains.

Maya & I braving 80 mph winds and rain.

My research this summer will be focusing on the changing frequency and intensity of late-season significant snow events in the White Mountains. There has been previous research done that suggests that despite a shortening winter season, significant snowstorms may continue to occur at the same or at an increased rate in interior New England in the future. My goal is to analyze historical data to identify if these suggested trends are supported by real world observations. I will be using snowfall and precipitation data from the Observatory along with data collected at Hermit Lake and Pinkham Notch to identify significant snowfalls. The data will span from March 1st to June 30th for each year of study and be analyzed based on calculated 90th percentile values, with all snowfall totals meeting or exceeding the 90th percentile value qualifying as “significant”. These significant events will then be used to construct a trend line that will reveal how these events are changing, with the largest events being set aside for individual case studies. This will ultimately paint a bigger picture indicating how these significant events are changing and impacting the overall region. The results of this study should prove invaluable in helping summit staff and visitors understand and prepare for the late snow season in the higher summits, both now and for the future.

Besides research, it has always been a dream of mine to experience the wild weather observed here at Mount Washington. Already I have experienced winds of 82 mph, views of 100 miles, hail accumulate like snow across the summit, and gotten up close and personal with my favorite cloud; the lenticular cloud! I am grateful to have been able to publish my own Higher Summits Forecasts on our website, which has given me invaluable experience in mountain forecasting. The constantly changing conditions have also made my trips to retrieve the precipitation can and helping observers setup some of our tower instruments both dynamic and fun.

When I am not busy doing research, forecasting, or giving tours I have been able to go out on some beautiful hikes and practice my photography. I was able to hike along the alpine gardens during the peak of the flower bloom and lay in some of the last patches of snow. As an avid hiker, I am looking forward to hiking many of the nearby summits here in the Presidential Range in the coming months. There have also been some incredible sunsets during the rare clear days along with spectacular views of the stars in the night sky.

Sunset on my first night.

I am really lucky to be with a great team here at the Observatory, with our observers Charlie, Alex, and Alexis helping me adapt to summit life, learning to give tours, getting my research project started, and providing me with so much support and humor. It is also great to have fellow intern Maya here to help split up our duties and go on hikes with! Our volunteers have also been great companions here and are filled with great stories. These first weeks have provided some of the most thrilling and engaging times in my meteorological journey thus far. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here holds and am fortunate to be able to advance the understanding of our natural processes while taking in all that life at the top of New England has to offer.

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