Sunny Skies and Happy Times
2018-09-15 12:26:05.000 – Ian Bailey, Weather Observer/Education Specialist
Transitioning from the summer to the fall has certainly been keeping us busy up here at the summit. And with Shift Leader Adam gone this week on vacation, things have been even busier than usual. But as I promised myself during my internship, I’ve made sure that I am never too busy to stop, look outside and enjoy the weather that is happening around me. And in doing so over the last few days, I’ve seen some pretty beautiful sights.
We’ve been under a strong high pressure system since we arrived on Wednesday. Starting Thursday morning and through the time of this publication, the skies have been a clear, vibrant blue. It is the polar opposite of the intense, extreme weather that we are used to living in up here. That’s what makes this place so special! Crazy wind speeds, frigid temperatures, heavy precipitation and storms are usually the conditions we are excited for when we are at work. But that doesn’t mean those are the only conditions that we like or the only conditions that make the mountain as special as it is.
High pressure systems such as this one generally bring drier air, reduced wind speeds and warmer temperatures to the region. And this system is no exception. But it’s not often that these conditions are as intense as they have been so far this shift. For the first time since our return, Night Observer Chris and I have both recorded “Clear Skies” observations, indicating that we are not observing any clouds above the summit at all! Usually there are some puffy cumulus or light bands of stratocumulus clouds. But for several significantly long observation periods, there was none of that at all!
And these wind speeds! Sure, we get calm winds less than 20, sometimes even less than 10 mph. But rarely ever do we get 1 or 0 mph winds! And today, we’ve had 1 mph winds several times. The air is crazy still outside!
Arguably most important is the temperature profiles associated with these conditions. It is much warmer than average for this time of year at the summit. We tied yesterday’s high temperature record of 60 degrees, and today we could tie or break the 61 degree record! It’s incredibly warm! And so even though we don’t have hurricane force winds, blinding snow storms and frigid temps, we are still excited to be experiencing the weather that we are and it is special to us!
And so we definitely take the chances we can to enjoy everything the calm weather has to offer!
Take, for example, this wonderful sunrise that we had Thursday morning! Intern Zach ran outside to catch this as the sun was cresting over the residual cloud layer. These were the last significant cloud decks that we had since we arrived, and Zach managed to catch the light shining through in such a perfect way! You can see how clear and blue the sky above is, and you can even see the stable layer marked by the tops of the low clouds spreading out across the horizon! It certainly made for a nice wake-up call!
And oh man, how about this night sky?! I’ve been kicking myself for missing the last clear night sky we had up here. So I made sure to be on top of this during this high pressure. You could see the Milky Way clearly, without needing the help of a camera at all. The moon was shining bright to the Northwest, and we saw several shooting stars! There was 1 insane shooter than blasted across the Northeastern sky around 9:00 pm. It streaked bright green before turning a vibrant light blue. And at the tail end of its descent (after a solid 6 or 7 seconds of falling) you could even see sparks and fire flaking off of it as it flashed a bright orange before disappearing below the horizon.
Sunset yesterday evening has been one of my favorites so far this year. 99% of the sky was clear around us, which lead to beautiful rainbow colors across the horizon. But that remaining 1% came in the form of 1, tiny little cloud bank, that decided to situate itself perfectly between us and the setting sun to the Northwest. So the clouds had a golden lace to their outline, with a sharp gray contrast that was just breathtaking. So, while we were out enjoying the beautiful view, we took the opportunity to make use of a very generous gift we just received!
Larry and Donna Martin had approached us during Seek the Peak back in July and had witnessed the conditions of our previous bag toss boards. So they took it upon themselves to craft us a brand new set! They are solid wood and incredibly durable, painted with beautiful MWObs colors and an awesome decal of the Obs Tower! And the bags are very well crafted also, not bouncing or sliding too much on the boards at all. It was very thoughtful of them and we really do appreciate the donation! So thank you so much if you are reading this! We had a very close first game as we enjoyed the incredible sunset, and ended with a final score of 21 to 17 after “yours truly” sunk 1 in the hole and 1 on the board!
So it just goes to show that the “extreme” Mount Washington weather can be exciting. But we also truly enjoy the quiet times. We get wonderful conditions, breath taking views, and can enjoy the observation deck and our time with our crew comfortably. It looks like today and tomorrow will be more of the same weather, so you can bet I will continue to take it all in and enjoy it as much as I can!
Ian Bailey, Weather Observer/Education Specialist