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Remembering Marty

Remembering Marty By Ken Rancourt | January 25, 2024 Known throughout New England as "Marty on the Mountain," Marty Engstrom passed away on Jan. 4 at his home in Fryeburg, ME, according to his family. He was 86 years old. Engstrom worked for 38 years on Mount Washington as an engineer at the WMTW transmission station; he wrote about his experiences in his 2003 book titled “Marty on the Mountain: 38 Years on Mount Washington.” Marty was already on the Mountain for over ten years when I met him in the fall of 1979. Guy Gosselin's (Obs Director) assistant,

The Shared History of AMC and the Mount Washington Observatory

The Shared History of AMC and the Mount Washington Observatory By Matt Morris | December 13, 2023 Courtesy of the Mount Washington Observatory Library. April 11, 1934: It was relatively warm on the summit of Mount Washington. Below freezing, but not by much. But more comfortable temperatures were not a reason for relief for the staff of the Mount Washington Observatory. Two walls of the observatory building were caked in ice nearly a foot deep and the wind was picking up. The observers decided to stay up in shifts that night, taking measurements with a radio to

A Night in the Life of a Weather Observer

A Night in the Life of a Weather Observer By Charlie Buterbaugh | March 15, 2022 Staff Meteorologist Ryan Knapp sets an anemometer on the observation tower. Well over a mile above the valley of Mount Washington, in a weather station built into boulders deposited tens of thousands of years ago, a night observer keeps track of data through the night, maintaining one of North America’s longest continuous alpine climate records. He is mainly focused on the minutes, completing observations between 00:49 and 00:59 past every hour. Routine and process rule the night, but no two nights make the

New Normals Reveal Valley and Summit Temperature Increases, Among Other Climate Trends

New Normals Reveal Valley and Summit Temperature Increases, Among Other Climate Trends By Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Science & Education | November 15, 2021 Chances are, you’ve heard a meteorologist refer to weather conditions as near, above, or below “normal.” But just what is normal for where you live? Who gets to say? How is it even determined? Every 10 years, the National Centers for Environmental Information [(NCEI) formerly known as the National Climatic Data Center] are charged with generating climate statistics known as U.S. Climate Normals, based on requirements from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and National

Partnerships Key to Continuous Mesonet Operation

Partnerships Key to Continuous Mesonet Operation By Peter Gagne, Technology & Operations Manager | November 15, 2021 An AMC helicopter airlifts 150-pound batteries plus other heavy items to Mizpah Spring and Lakes of the Clouds huts on Sept. 13. Ringo Starr was mostly the silent, steady figure in the Greatest Band of all Time, but one line from a Beatles’ song that featured his vocals is particularly pertinent to our topic: “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.” During my time at the Observatory, we have partnered with many businesses, organizations, and universities to

Weather 101: Tropical Storms

Weather 101: Tropical Storms By Nicole Tallman, Past Weather Observer & Education Specialist | November 15, 2021 An example of a hurricane’s eye and surrounding eye wall, where the most ferocious winds of the storm occur. NOAA photo.  Come late summer and early fall, we begin to hear more about activity in the tropics. The threat of hurricanes becomes more prominent and you may find yourself thinking about how and why these storms are forming. One of the strongest storms known to people, a hurricane begins its life cycle as a cluster of thunderstorms in the tropical or

The Science Behind Nor’Easters

The Science Behind Nor'Easters The Science Behind Nor'Easters Extra-Tropical Cyclones and the Extreme Weather they Make on Mount Washington The Feb. 25, 2019 Hays Chart shows a 171 mph wind gust, caused by the passage of an ETC and the development of a secondary area of low pressure, which is characteristic of a nor’easter. Unique beasts known for punishing weather, nor’easters serve an important purpose for our globe despite their infamous reputation. A type of extra-tropical cyclone (ETC), nor’easters get their colloquial name from unique localized characteristics, mainly the coastal northeast flow that occurs before the onset of

Avalanche Deaths a Tragic Part of Mount Washington History

Avalanche Deaths a Tragic Part of Mount Washington History By Peter Crane, Curator, Gladys Brooks Memorial Library | June 15, 2021 Mount Washington and Ammonoosuc Ravine (looking from the west). The large dot marks the approximate site of the Forgays tragedy. Bradford Washburn photo. On Monday February 1, 2021, an avalanche in Ammonoosuc Ravine took the life of Ian Forgays, 54, of Lincoln, Vermont. Forgays, a very experienced backcountry skier, was skiing alone in this ravine on the western side of Mount Washington. Weather conditions were favorable with the temperature in the single numbers and teens and winds averaging

Visibility from Summit Increasing Over Time

Visibility from Summit Increasing Over Time By Brian Fitzgerald, Director of Science & Education | June 15, 2021  Weather Observer Sam Robinson stands above the clouds in December 2020. Observers record prevailing visibility at each of their 24 hourly observations, every day of the year. Visibility appears to be generally increasing over time on the summit of Mount Washington since our continuous record of visibility began in 1943. This noteworthy finding comes in the wake of an initial data exploration and analysis of Mount Washington Observatory’s (MWO) long-term visibility records, completed by Weather Observers Jay Broccolo and Sam

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