"On Mount Washington, weather watching is risky business"
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Road Trip 2018
On Mount Washington, weather watching is risky business
This is New Hampshire's Mount Washington on a pleasant summer day.
Don't be fooled!
At 6288 feet it's the highest mountain in the Northeastern US and home to the some of the world's most extreme weather.
That's Tom Padham, one of the weather watchers at the Mount Washington observatory.
Winds on that brutal November day were gusting up to 105 miles per hour, with a wind chill of minus 40 farenheit.
Think that's crazy?
The Summit of Mount Washington in April 1934, recorded a gust of 231 miles per hour.
Setting a world record at the top only once since then.
So why is the weather here so extreme?
For one thing prevailing winds at 6000 feet haven't met any obstacles slowing them down for a thousand miles North.
And when those winds reach Newhampshire.
They hit a wall of mountains, and that wall forms a funnel with a focal point right at Mount Washington.
On top of that, three major storm tracks converge there.
All of which makes for some seriously dangerous weather all year round.
Here are some more extremes, the mountain averages 97 inches of rain and 281 inches of snow every year.
Hurricane force winds are a regular presence.
During the extended winter season, 100 mph winds rip through basically once a week.
We're gonna take a look what it's like outside.
It's pretty crazy.
I wanted to see what it's actually like to work there.
The privately funded Mount Washington Observatory has two crews.
Each with free weather observers and one to three interns.
Each crew rotates in every Wednesday for a week long stay at the Summit.
There are weather instruments to monitor, recording things like temperature, wind speed and barometric pressure.
People have been doing that at the observatory since 1932.
And that's produced a remarkable historical record of weather patterns and climate behavior.
The observatory website updates throughout the day.
And there's a twice daily higher summits forecast.
That's vital information for hikers and skiers and tourists in the immediate vicinity, and helps a lot with regional forecasts as well.
So we're going out a minimum of at least once an hour to take weather observation readings.
So we're taking temperature, making sure our instruments are free, as well as looking at sky conditions, visibility, and any [INAUDIBLE] Type of precep that might be falling from the sky, and kinda putting that all together for our meter that we [UNKNOWN] once in [UNKNOWN].
Around the clock even in extreme weather, the [UNKNOWN] goes outside to make observations.
That [UNKNOWN] contraption, it's a sling size calorimeter which they use to gauge due point and relative humidity When there's snow or rain, someone's got to go out to fetch the precipitation bucket.
And it gets worse.
In really frightening winter weather, they constantly have to de-ice the instruments, and that can be hazardous.
So use a crowbar.
I can do this.
[INAUDIBLE] Get rid of this ice.
The highest ones I've ever experienced while working here is 158 miles per hour.
The winds were from the north west and that night and I was outside deicing the instrumentation and when I came back in The building was actually shaking which is kind of an impressive feat given that it's a solid building with about two to three feet walls.
We were seeing heavy freezing rain with winds gusting to 110 miles an hour.
It was building up about six inches per hour of clear solid The glazed ice.
I was knocking off, basically, four foot by two and a half foot or so thick blocks of ice that weighed a good 150 pounds in 100 miles an hour winds.
So that was pretty scary, actually.
Scary as that may sound, it's just the daily routine for the crew.
They even have fun with it.
But doing science experiements with eggs and boiling water.
You should be sure to check out their You Tube channel.
In better weather there are actually a lot of tourists who come to visit.
About 350,000 a year.
They can hike up, drive a car or ride the old fashioned cog railway.
However they get there is allowing for photos at the summit marker.
I couldn't resist.
If you visit, just don't push your luck, especially in winter.
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