2006-09-10 09:38:45.000 – Neil Lareau,  Observer

Hail Drift


A plump and lopsided gibbous moon looms above the western horizon. Clouds rise up and partially obscured the summit from the northeast. The temperature is 27.6 degrees, and the clouds are now depositing tiny feathers of rime ice. My feet stick to the observation deck in an effect not unlike walking across the soda spilled floor of a movie theatre. The shoes, still warm from being inside, melt the ice on the cement surface and then, if you stand still, the water refreezes trying to hold you in place. Yesterday the mountain tried to do the opposite. It tried to blow us away.


Standing in the weather room, face near the window, the first wave of rain speckled the west windows. A few waves of moderate rain ensued, then all hell broke lose. In a series of three or four bursts the wind tried to eradicate all that is vertical on the summit. Cold air held aloft within the storm plunged downward and then ran upslope along the mountain surfaces in what is typically known as a gust front. The wind, which had lulled to just 12 mph, jumped to 80 mph (one anemometer actually had it at 90mph for a split second.) Commensurately, the temperatures dropped 7 degrees in about 1 minute. Hail pelted the windows as it mixed with the torrents of rain. Strangely there had yet to be any lightning. Then a dim flash was seen through the fog. A few minutes later the metallic clatter and crack of a direct hit to the summit compelled Maria to scream. This scene was then repeated a few minutes later as another bolt sought ground. Winds died down quickly, but cold rain accompanied by occasional lightning continued for another 30 minutes.


Neil Lareau,  Observer

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