Taking a break from work

2009-05-22 15:36:47.000 – Brian Clark,  Observer and Meteorologist

Looking up Airplane Gully. Still plenty of snow!

One of the many things that I have always loved about working on the summit of Mount Washington as a weather observer is having the opportunity to go outside on a regular basis. Obviously as a minimum, one of us goes outside once an hour to take the weather observation, but there are other reasons to go outside: taking down or repairing instruments, maintaining research equipment, and getting the precipitation can just to name a few. This is also one of the many reasons I chose to come work for the Observatory after graduating from Penn State almost exactly two years ago rather than working a more typical weather forecasting job.

Working here gives me the opportunity to go outside for non work related activities as well.

As a full time weather observer, I am expected to work 80 hours during our Wednesday to Wednesday work week (8 work days). To accomplish this, we generally work a 12 hour shift each day with 2 hours of “break” time built into that shift. Typically my shift runs from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and during 6 of those hours, I am responsible for taking the hourly weather observation (the other 6 hours are shared with my fellow day observer Mike). However, the exact hours that I work are somewhat flexible and can differ slightly on some days. That flexibility is what allows me to get outside for those non work related activities and take advantage of having such an incredible place as my backyard.

Now anyone that knows me or reads these comments on anything close to a regular basis knows that, by far, my favorite non work related activity to partake in on this mountain is backcountry skiing. Even though by this time of the year most people have moved on to more typical spring and summer activities, I do anything I can to avoid having more than a few months between ski seasons now that I live I the North Country. When I lived in Pennsylvania, my ski season would typically end over two months ago! So today, one of our snow tractor operators, Wayne, came up with a couple friends to make some turns. Mike joined them first, heading down to the East Snowfields for some runs. Then Mike came back up and let me head over to Airplane Gully in the Great Gulf with them. The snow was as good as it gets: nice soft corn snow that has just enough firmness to it with some bumps from heavy skier traffic that were just big enough to have some fun on. Perhaps more importantly, the snow was continuous for somewhere around 600-800 vertical, almost all the way down to the bottom of the Great Gulf Headwall.

Today was one of the many days each year that I can say, without a doubt, that I love my job.


Brian Clark,  Observer and Meteorologist

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