The Next Chapter
2021-08-04 07:16:47.000 – David DeCou, Night Observer
It’s hard to believe that today will be my last shift change as the Night Observer at Mount Washington Observatory. After an extraordinary 17 months of incredible weather and awe-inspiring views, this last week has been a relatively ordinary one. We’ve had days of fog, rain, and gusty winds with a few sunrises and sunsets sprinkled in. We even had a brief taste of winter, with temperatures falling to around freezing combined with sustained hurricane-force winds. I may be experiencing some of these things for the last time on the summit, but what’s important to me is that I’ve lived all these experiences in the first place. After all, my last sunset on the summit isn’t necessarily more special than my 100th and every one in between. I am simply grateful to have been here for them in the first place.
I am grateful for the meteorological experience and skills that I’ve gained here at the Home of the World’s Worst Weather. I am grateful for my wonderful fellow observers, who have taught me so much, and helped make Mount Washington my home over the last year and several months. I want to thank Jay, who was an incredible help acclimating me to night observations and forecasting and instrumentation and quality checks and everything in between, who I was lucky to have worked with on shift when I first arrived. I also want to thank Sam and Nicole for being amazing coworkers and observers to share the summit with during these last few summer months. I won’t forget the nights watching and listening to thunderstorms roll in or the many dinner table conversations or the late mornings up in the weather room after shift. I won’t forget the evening we all rushed outside to enjoy the double-rainbow at sunset, with undercast skies below. I won’t forget the calm early mornings or the frantic late-night ice storms. I also won’t forget how talented you all are at Wii Bowling. In addition to my wonderful coworkers, I also want to thank Becca for being such an incredible and supportive boss during my time working here. I began working at the Observatory amid shutdowns and uncertainty with the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic, and Becca was instrumental in getting me settled both in the Valley and on the Summit. Everyone I’ve worked with at the Observatory has had an impact on me in some way or another, and I am grateful for all of you.
By the end of this year, I will be returning to Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, working as a meteorologist with the US Antarctic Program. It will be quite a jump from one extreme weather environment back to another, and as sad as I am to leave the Observatory, I am very excited to begin the next chapter (hopefully with a more normal sleeping schedule). After all, goodbye is not necessarily goodbye forever, and I would definitely love to visit the summit again. The Mount Washington Observatory is an incredibly special place to live and work, and it has undoubtedly left a place in my heart.
David DeCou, Night Observer