That old saying…

2008-03-13 02:27:15.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Meteorologist

1930s Commute.

My past week can be summarized as this: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. First off though, let me clarify that I did not get married, I just thought this old marriage superstition best summarized my week off is all. So, I will work my way backwards.

First off, I went to Bethel, Maine and saw the world’s tallest snowwoman under blue skies. I missed the worlds tallest snowman back in 1999 standing at a mere 113 foot, 7 inch high. This woman one uped that record at 122 feet and one inch. It was fun to see the transformation each week off starting from a pile of snow with snowguns running to a giant crane lifting the snow to the top to the finished snow figure that stands overlooking the town today. Pictures cannot do this thing justice; it is something that has to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, my pictures came out a bit white washed so here is a file photo I found from here.

Next up, something borrowed. For those of you who may not be aware, New Hampshire is having one of its best winters in 30 years or more for most of the state. This means a great opportunity for winter sports like snow shoeing, tubing, sledding, snow machining, and especially skiing and snowboarding. If you have not been able to get out and enjoy the snow, borrow some time like I did and take advantage of everything New Hampshire has to offer to bring out the kid in you. Before heading out, you can check out our outdoor sports forecast for lower elevations, higher summits forecast for above tree line, or call skiNH at 603-745-9396 or our weather phone at 603-356-2137 where we provide the weather every morning via a recording to get your dressed properly before heading out to play.

Lastly, something old and something new. These two go hand in hand. Every Wednesday, our snow bombardier comes up the mountain shuttling one crew up and one crew down. The cabin is unheated and as you have read in past comments, can be enough to remind you of what you had for breakfast at times. But regardless of how bad it can be at times, I have a new found appreciation for this form of transportation. On the seventh, I met with some of our valley staff to help in installing some instrumentation for our mesonet project. This is where we are installing weather stations at various sites around the Whites to gather more weather data. Now this might sound easy enough but it was a lot more work than I thought it would be. These sites have to be self sufficient since we are installing them at locations far from power. So the power has to be gathered and stored by the sun. This meant solar power, four batteries weighing 120 pounds each, and the station equipment being pulled up via sleds.

Now, some trips were carried out individually with a single person tying down equipment and slowly pulling their sled up. But the batteries were a two person job. We thought we could do it alone but found that it took two people pulling in tandem to pull these up. Even then, it was a pull to a count of fifty then stop to slow the heart rate down then repeat. Sometimes the count was quicker pending on the pith of where we were pulling. The lighter items took an individual 45 minutes to carry their load up to our location but the batteries took an hour and fifteen minutes to deliver one battery at a time. Due to changing weather and a setting sun, this project ended up being a two day project.

What this did expose me to is the old way shift change was carried out. Back in the 1930’s, there were no snow mobiles readily available, there were no snow coaches, there were no bombardiers, and there were no light weight plastic sleds. All theses observers had were two feet, a backpack and a wooden sled to carry up everything they would need for their shifts. My sled pulling was up a mountain near Conway, NH for less than a mile but these men carried their load four to eight miles up to the summit of Mount Washington, NH in the rapidly changing weather we are known for. I was wearing polypropylene where as they were wearing wool, which is quite heavy. We have computers and satellites aiding in our weather forecasts and nowcasts but these men had to use intuition, local data, and hope to get them up top. Observers currently stay on top for a week at a time but these men would sometimes spend months up here I have read. A tough job today was definitely tougher back when this station first started observing over 75 years ago.

But what do I share with these men. I can’t speak for every observer that’s passed through here, but from what I have read from these early observers, we were not here for the fame, we were not here for the glory, we were not here for riches, nor were we trying to look death in the eyes and laugh. We came here to do what we love and feel the emotions and passions tied to weather. It is as alive and strong today as it was some 75 years ago, even if our surroundings and transportation have changed with the times.


Ryan Knapp,  Meteorologist

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