Thunderstorms, full moon, sunrise – oh my!

2007-07-31 15:23:30.000 – Maria Zatko,  Summit Intern

Full Moon on the morning of 7/31

Last night was full of more exciting weather phenomena up here on the rockpile. To set the stage, the Buck moon, the full moon’s name for this July, was illuminating the partly clear sky.

Around 9 o’clock I went for a walk down the auto road, but stopped in my tracks at the stage coach office when I realized there was a thunderstorm in the distance. After sprinting back to the observatory and alerting the crew up here, we sat outside for a good hour watching the storm. The storm was about 30 miles to our south with lightning strikes occurring at least once a minute. Seeing a storm from this high up is wild – we were able to make out individual strikes rather than just seeing flashes. The strikes, for the most part, appeared to travel upwards and from side to side in the same storm cloud. How often can you see a full moon and an electrically charged cloud simultaneously?

Thankfully the storm kept its distance from the summit because Dan and I camped out on the tower last night. Bundled up in hoodies and sweatpants, we managed to squeeze our sleeping bags, mats and pillows up the ladders and through the doors onto the tower. For most of the night we were shielded by the northwesterly winds, however, around 4 in the morning the winds increased and shifted to the north. This spelled trouble for Dan because he was on the northern facing part of the tower. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful night and sunrise was vivid and vibrant. The pink and oranges were so bright that Zach saw a bit of alpenglow on Mt. Clay as the sun rose.

Thunderstorms and a full moon at night followed by a brilliant sunrise in a morning? I am still in awe!


Maria Zatko,  Summit Intern

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