2008-12-15 17:57:00.000 – Jeff Wehrwein, Summit Intern
Today I did a poor job of managing my expectations. Since Friday, we have been eyeing the forecast models’ predictions of good wind speeds today. Yesterday afternoon, one model was reporting 108 mph for 1PM today. Since models predict average wind speed, the peak is likely to be higher. In addition, the models often underestimate our wind speeds due to the unique geography of this area. So we were all pretty excited about getting some good wind, and I was hoping we would hit 110 or even top last week’s gust of 122.4. By this morning, the models had retreated to a top prediction of 99 mph, but we were still hopeful.
As promised, the winds were already picking up when I got up this morning. Also, the temperature rose above freezing around 7AM, making the snow and ice coating the summit very slippery. Jordan and I spent nearly an hour on the tower around noon trying to chip away some of the ice and showing off our exciting conditions to some visitors that Scot brought up. Standing in (or clinging to) the parapet was an exhilirating experience, and I was sure that the wind must be gusting over 100 mph. However, when I came downstairs to look at the data, I found that it had only hit 100.6 that whole time. A few months ago I would have been thrilled to be out when the wind hit 100, but with all those built-up expectations I wanted more.
All was not lost, however, as I enjoyed the hour in the tower, getting completely soaked through due to the dense wet fog. And just as soon as that was over, it was time to get the precip can. Walking 1000 feet across the summit doesn’t sound that difficult, but a bit of melted water on a base layer of smooth ice makes for interesting walking. My boots could grip well enough to walk where the snow cat had churned up the ice, but there were many flat spots where there was no grip at all. Stacey retreated to put on crampons, while Jordan and I tried to find a passable route. In the end, we gave up and Stacey clanked across the ice in her crampons to switch out the precip can.
Later this afternoon we hit a peak gust of 107.9 mph, which displaces my previous best of 105.8. All in all, an exciting day. But I can’t help being a little disappointed that we didn’t get something a little higher. With a return to moderate winds and wintery temperatures forecast for the remainder of shift, I’ll have to wait until next week for another chance.
Jeff Wehrwein, Summit Intern