2008-03-26 23:29:51.000 – Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist
Humans are always seeking what is next. When we were younger, it was trivial stuff like what we would do next before it was time for bed. When we start to go to school, we found ourselves waiting for the next semester to improve or take a new subject. If a year wasn’t going very well, we would think how bad this year was but next year we would rule the school. We graduate and anticipate what is next, college or the real world and we head down that path greeted along the way by thoughts of what would be next. Sometimes these thoughts are grand like our next car or house but sometimes we just wish to be next in line to buy our one product and not stuck behind someone with a shopping cart full of groceries. Sometimes we know what is coming next but at times we find ourselves blindsided by what’s next on some idle Tuesday. But through the good or the bad, we move forward ever thinking of what is next.
Even as you read this you probably thought to yourself, “Well, what is next?” or “Where is this going?” and if you weren’t, now you are. Well, the thought of what is next is always lingering on the minds of the staff here on the summit of Mount Washington. The obvious thought of what is next are the forecasts that we produce twice daily as we try to look at the weather for the next 36 hours. But anticipating what’s next runs even deeper. On shift change when the weather is bad, we wonder if we will be able to make it to the next mile marker as we pace up the mountain. At our shift change meeting, we read our agendas, and through the good or the bad, we see what lays ahead for our next shift. Will all our instruments work properly during the next eight days or will we need to work in subzero temperatures and high winds? Will our next edutrips or daytrips make it up so we can meet some new faces to break up the monotony of the same three people that make up our crew? When we sit down for dinner, will we get that call to action for a search and rescue nearby or have someone illegally break in forcing us to decide what to do next. Will we make our next deadlines for articles to be submitted for Windswept, our quarterly publication? Will the weather cooperate next Wednesday so that we can get down on time or will be here til next Thursday?
When Wednesday hits, what will we do to fulfill our next six days off from the summit. Will we be able to make it to the base to come up again next Wednesday? Will any records be broken while we are off or can they wait until our next shift? Will another location be next to surpass our current record wind speed of 231 mph or will we break it? Will I be able to look up at my place of work next time I drive to Conway or will it be socked in fog like it is over half the year. What challenges await me the next week I come up the summit? What challenges will meet us in the next couple of months?
Will we achieve our goal of 250 new members so we can open up our two new webcams at Attitash and Jackson or will we have to wait until next week/month/year? As we start to look at our intern candidates for the upcoming summer season, we wonder if our next crop of interns will be as great as our current or past interns. Will this next summer be even busier than last summer? Will our next crop of new summer volunteers work out as great as last summer’s volunteers? After April 2nd, my next time up will not be until May 7th, will my next trip up to the summit be in the back of a truck and not a Bombardier? Will the snow last past next month or will I be greeted by the ever-growing fields of rock and sedge? Will anything else drastic greet me the next time I come up? If the snow is still here, is it a sign of the next ice age? Will next winter bring even more snow than this year? Is this what we really want for next year or the years after that?
If we knew what was coming in the next minutes, hours, days, weeks or years, would we really want to know? If we were able to anticipate what is next, our jobs would be too linear and feel like a typical nine to five desk job. We come here to experience the weather, if we want to watch the weather on a computer screen, we can do that at our next job. The unexpected gusts, the blinding snow, the battle with rime, the many faces we meet, our members, our coworkers, our cat Marty, our volunteers, and even you reading this comment is what drive us to see and experience what is next. And the great thing about working on the summit of Mount Washington is, you never really know what is going to happen next.
Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist