top border

Please note, not all links may be active. This site is a snapshot of an earlier time.

Live from Mount Washington, Part 5

Jason Samenow @ 10:41 PM

Live from Mount Washington features writer Andrew Freedman is spending the summer working at the Mount Washington Observatory, the self-proclaimed home of the World's Worst Weather. This is the fifth in a series of biweekly reports (read the first report, second report,third report and fourth report).

After headline-making heat and humidity last week, the weather has calmed down both in D.C. and here on Mt. Washington. I am writing this from a fogbound summit (visibility of 1/16 of a mile, barely to the far railing on the observation deck), with a fall-like temperature of 46 degrees. Last week afforded us a brief glimpse at the stifling weather Washingtonians had to endure. The summit temperature soured to 64 on Tuesday, with a dewpoint nearly to match. Considering that we're typically about 25 degrees cooler than the base of the mountain, that means the valley areas had quite a hot day. Showers and thunderstorms rolled through Tuesday night through
Wednesday, ending our run in with the heat and bringing a wind gust to 55 mph. Following the cold frontal passage we've experienced cool, dry and beautiful weather (until today's fog, that is), with visibility at times approaching 100 miles.

Yesterday the weather cooperated nicely for a couple who got married on the summit, after hiking up the mountain of course. Considering we experience fog at least 60 percent of the year, the sunshine for their wedding day was extra special.

In the midst of this benign weather I find myself looking into the past to see what could be happening here at the home of the "world's worst weather" (I think that title belongs to southern India of late, which has been hammered by an insanely intense monsoon that has killed close to 1,000 people).

I came across some data from July 20, 1996, when we had a wind gust to 154 mph from the Northwest. The culprit was an unusually intense low pressure system that deepened as it headed across the St. Lawrence River Valley and to a position straddling the Maine/Canada border. The cold winds on the backside of the storm allowed for snow and ice pellets to fall, proving that the summit can experience winter conditions at any time of the year (our average July snowfall is just a trace, however). Check out this Hays wind speed chart for that day (on the right). Not something you're likely to see in D.C. anytime soon! Hopefully the weather will get more exciting in time for my last week here starting August 10.

Comments are closed for this archived entry | Link | email post Email this post