The Good Weather Shift
2016-06-22 17:34:43.000 – Caleb Meute, Weather Observer/Meteorologist
Since I returned to the summit as a weather observer, I have been experiencing some awesome weather. With that said, I am a little jealous of the opposing shift. I will explain by breaking down the peak daily winds that we have experienced on my last two shifts and compare them to the opposing shifts previous two.
Other shift (5/25 – 6/1):
67mph / 73mph / 55mph / 49mph / 47mph / 63mph / 76mph / 38mph
My shift (6/1 – 6/8):
38mph / 50mph / 50mph / 37mph / 75mph / 71mph / 58mph / 90mph
Other shift (6/8 – 6/15): Try and keep a straight face here…
90mph / 100mph / 66mph / 70mph / 86mph / 101mph / 93mph / 81mph… Seriously?
My shift (6/15 – 6/22):
50mph / 38mph / 38mph / 34mph / 38mph / 65mph / 80mph
Even if you are horrible at recognizing patterns, you may find that the other shift “seems” to have been getting stronger winds. I put some of the numbers in bold because they need further explanation to help prove my point. 38 mph on June 1st (Shift change) was the peak wind gust and it occurred at 1:25am. When my shift got to the summit, the winds were in the 0-15mph range… 90mph on June 8th (Shift change) was the peak wind and it occurred at 8:38pm. Granted, winds were strong on the 8th, but the average while my shift was on the summit was 48mph. Once we got to the base, the winds picked up and the average for the rest of the day was 66mph… 80mph was the peak wind yesterday June 21st and that occurred at 5:23am. My shift ended at 5:00am and I was downstairs eating a bowl of frosted flakes when that happened. Frosted flakes are delicious, but come on… Even last night the winds dropped from being sustained around 44mph to 15mph shortly after my shift began. Here is a picture at that time of our Hays Chart, which shows us wind speeds. The Hays Chart is connected to the Pitot Tube which measures the wind from the top of our tower. The closer the needle is to the center, the lower the winds are. When I went outside for the observation at 11:45pm I could not help but laugh; another point for Mother Nature.
I like to blame this on the “Weatherman Curse” which is when bad weather tends to avoid where meteorologists are. This is because we generally enjoy the worst weather, so naturally it goes elsewhere. I just moved to Burlington VT from southeastern Pennsylvania. Yesterday in southeastern Pennsylvania there was a big severe weather outbreak. Up here on the summit, we had cloudy skies and winds were light (per Mount Washington standards). Two nights ago when a cold front moved through New England, my new home in Burlington VT had a line of severe thunderstorms roll through which my seriously lucky girlfriend got to witness. They were coming straight for the summit, and then they crossed the Green Mountains and sensed I was waiting for them so they dissipated. It was awesome though because we did get a rain shower that lasted almost 30 minutes!
While I am clearly bitter right now, the great thing about the summit of Mount Washington is this is the one place where the “Weatherman Curse” does not exist. Weather up here is extreme year round. The good weather shift vs. bad weather shift is really just the atmospheres way of normalizing. Patterns of upper level troughing vs upper level ridging usually occur one after another. Oftentimes a ridging pattern will set up on one shift while a trough digs in for the opposing shift, thus good weather shift vs. bad weather shift. When an upper level trough moves through, the weather is unsettled with cooler temperatures, storms and stronger winds. When an upper level ridge moves in, fair weather is the result. That is what happened this week as a ridge pushed into New England and remained overhead for most of the week. Temperatures were well above seasonable and skies were mostly clear with lighter winds. I really cannot complain too much though because this has been a truly beautiful week.
Caption: The good weather certainly came in handy for the Sunrise Drive this past week!
Speaking on the thunderstorms that dissipated over the Green Mountains; this does often happen if the driving force behind the storms is on the weaker side. As air flows over mountains, it sinks on the leeward side and makes the column more stable, thus occasionally killing/weakening lines of thunderstorms. This also affects the storms momentum, which makes it difficult for them to make it over the White Mountains.
Since I started working up here on April 20th, it appears that my shift has been a little less lucky when it comes to the strongest winds and the worst of the weather. Hopefully that will change at one point or another this summer and if not, we will just have to wait for winter when the summit is bombarded by intense weather almost daily! I am thinking since we have been unlucky with lower winds, there has to be at least some luck in our shifts wind numbers. I think I will buy a lottery ticket tomorrow and play them.
Caleb Meute, Weather Observer/Meteorologist