2008-12-26 15:13:57.000 – Jeff Wehrwein, Summit Intern
Red and green Hays chart for Christmas
Over the summer, the observers poked fun at me for getting excited when the wind gusted into the 70s. Experiencing 70 mph winds for the first time is a thrilling event, but the seasoned observers don’t get excited until it’s near 100 mph. Yesterday, however, I joined the ever-growing list of observatory staff who have experienced real Mount Washington winds. I can hardly say I saw the day’s peak gust of 128.5 mph because it happened at 12:08 AM when I was asleep. But it was still gusting into the 120s when I woke up in the morning, so I’m glad I got my sleep. A gust of 121 mph tried to blow my goggles off my head while I was deicing, and I ventured to the precip can twice with gusts into the 90s and 100s. The highest wind speed I had seen previously was 107.9 mph, so this was an exciting new high for me. In fact, 128.5 is the highest gust recorded since March 21 of this year. With an average of 85.5 mph over the entire day, it was also the windiest full day since March 21. I took advantage of the slippery conditions on the deck to do some wind-powered deck skiing (no skis necessary).
Stacey and I attempted to walk around the deck, in what we thought was a practice run for the Century Club. To be a member of the Century Club, you must walk around the entire observation deck without crampons, without holding on to anything, and without falling in winds averaging over 100 mph. When Stacey and I checked before going outside, the wind was averaging around 95 mph, so we didn’t think it would be a real Century Club attempt. With a northwest wind, getting to the other end of the deck was easy; getting back was the hard part. I got about 2/3 of the way back to the tower before a gust of 120 knocked me off my feet. I tried to keep going, but that last corner of the deck was impenetrable. When we came back inside, we discovered that the average over those 5 minutes had been just over 100 mph. Thus we unknowingly joined the much larger group of people who have tried but failed to join the elusive Century Club.
After all the excitement yesterday, the weather is giving us a break today with our first calm winds and clear skies since Tuesday. After bottoming out at -3 F overnight, the temperature has bounced back up to a balmy 15 degrees. With the wind down to the low 20s, being outside is an eerily quiet experience. Falling asleep last night, I noticed a distinct silence without the roaring wind outside my window for the first time this week. This weekend is looking to be interesting in a different way: the models are predicting highs in the low 40s on Saturday and Sunday, with plentiful rain and a brisk breeze. The weekend’s record highs are 37 and 42 degrees, so we’ll most likely have one or two new records to report.
Jeff Wehrwein, Summit Intern