The Weatherman’s Curse
2016-07-29 15:40:24.000 – Claudia Pukropski, Summit Intern
It’s often believed that clouds are a Chinese symbol of good luck. Due to their beauty and change in color and shape, it’s thought that they spark people’s imaginations, leading to happiness and good fortune. Here on the summit of Mount Washington, we are lucky enough to work, live and sleep among the clouds. So one would think we would be sated with good luck. But quite the contrary is true. Among the meteorology world, there is something known as the weatherman’s curse, also referred to as a weather hole.
A weather hole is a place that doesn’t receive much activity when it comes to storms. It could be from approaching storms either slightly missing a specific location, or by dissipating before it reaches its destination. Some people believe that this is not by chance, but rather if someone such as a meteorologist or weather enthusiast is in an area forecasted to have severe weather, the storm will miss them. Many claim that meteorologists’ home towns, or areas where a large number of meteorologist live, have significantly fewer storms then surrounding cities, and are disproportionately missed by approaching storms. We can apply this theory to the summit, where at any given time, there are multiple meteorologists.
Why does the home of the “world’s worst weather” tend to have cells dissipating and/or missing the summit before it reaches us? This can be explained by statistical behaviors of convection. Due to the topography of the White Mountain Forest, instead of the cold pool spreading out, its interaction with the mountains causes the updraft to ingest it, essentially killing the thunderstorm. Having interned here for a couple of weeks, I have single handedly witnessed this multiple times. There have been many times where the forecasted statistical probability of a thunderstorm hitting us was significantly high. We would all get really excited and gather in the weather room to watch the storm. We would track it on radar, closely watching reflectivity increase, and often see the electromagnetic fields rise to levels where lightening was possible. It would seem like we are going to get hit with a wicked thunderstorm, and then moments before it would either weaken, or miss us. One day in particular we had spotty cells around the summit and two different times it was looking likely that a storm would hit us, only to go too far north the first time, and the second time just slightly to our south. As a meteorologist, eager to see severe weather, this can be pretty frustrating.
So now you may find yourself asking, does the weatherman’s curse actually exist? Science has proven there are reasons why certain regions receive less severe weather, but what are the chances of this happening where meteorologists are typically stationary? Studies have been done on the topic, and have in fact proven that some areas are known to be weather holes or others, weather hot spots (which are areas where severe, weather hits more frequently). Interestingly enough, it has actually presented to be helpful when forecasting for storms, because if meteorologists are aware of these unique areas, they can apply knowledge of past events when forecasting for upcoming storms.
It’s now up to you to decide if you believe in the weatherman’s curse. Either meteorologists have bad luck of being in areas with infrequent storms, or meteorologists really do control the weather!
P.S. Regardless of the curse, Mount Washington is still the home of some of the world’s worst weather, so come visit during one of our summer or winter day trips to experience it for yourself!
Claudia Pukropski, Summit Intern