When the East Winds Blow

2012-12-27 16:46:40.000 – Brian Fitzgerald,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist

Isn’t snow supposed to be outside the tower?

When the Sherman Adams Summit Building was constructed and finished in 1980, it was built for withstanding some of the worst weather this planet knows. This concrete and rebar re-enforced building encompasses the northern upper slope of the summit cone and was built into the mountain itself, bolted right down to the bedrock to ensure a safe and stable foundation, even in the nastiest of storms. Triple pane windows made of bullet-proof glass also serve as good protection from chunks of projectile ice flying that can hit the building at hurricane-force.

Our observation tower and observatory itself is well protected on the northwest (and windiest) side of the Sherman Adams Building, with our tower door and metal A-frame facing east, so as to keep us out of predominately westerly or northwesterly winds (and subsequent ice).Today however, winds whipped out of the dreaded east, hurling heavy snow and wind right at our observation deck door which we use every hour for venturing outside for assessing temperature, visibility, precipitation, etc. The day-shift observers were greeted with a pile of snow inside this morning, instead of outside of our tower, where we also received a quick punch in the face for those observers who weren’t prepared while opening a door with immense pressure behind it. Our latch system wasn’t entirely up to the task with all of the snow filtering through the seams jamming up the lock, so our bolt-action lock added a much needed back up to keep our door shut to prevent even more snow from piling up indoors. At its fiercest today (so far a gust of 112mph) the door became not only difficult to keep closed, but almost impossible to close from the outside when going outside for an observation. In fact, right about the time of our highest gust the handle broke off the door while attempting to shut it front the outside, prompting two observers to hurry back inside with the pieces and promptly shut and lock the door.

With the winds calmed to a more reasonable 50 to 60mph range we were able to repair the handle and remove most of the snow from inside the tower as the wind shifted to a more northerly direction before it eventually makes it way to a more familiar northwest direction tomorrow.

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Brian Fitzgerald,  Weather Observer/Education Specialist

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