150 to 200-mph winds … snowfall accumulations measured in feet not inches … high temperatures below zero … all in a day’s work for meteorologists atop New Hampshire’s Mount Washington observatory. Peak’s extreme weather could blow you away is the headline of a recent wire story on the fascinating conditions encountered atop this peak that is well-known in meteorology circles. Hurricane force winds howl an average of 100 days per year with conditions that make even the heartiest observers take notice:
At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is only one-third the size of Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak. But Mount Washington sticks up like a big toe at a point where storms from the north, south and west collide. As a result, it has some of the most ferocious weather on Earth, with snow and ice even in the summer.
Weather records have been maintained from this mountaintop station for over a century and continuously for more than 70 years. It is open to vehicle traffic in the summer, but even then, the conditions are trecherous. Winter treks to the summit of Mount Washington are limited to those who can meet rigorous physical conditioning requirements…and there is a waiting list. To label the weather as ferocious is probably an understatement. Among many other records, Mount Washington still holds the world record for the fastest measured wind speed anywhere on Earth, as measured in 1934:
During a wild April storm in 1934, a wind gust of 231 miles per hour (372 kilometers per hour) pushed across the summit of Mount Washington. This wind speed still stands as the all-time surface wind speed record.
Be sure to read the full story, including the observer’s first hand account of that historic day. By comparison check out the Current Weather Conditions atop Mount Washington – downright balmy at 6 degrees with a 30mph wind today!
For more on Mount Washington, check out the wealth of information available via the Official Homepage of the Mount Washington Observatory. Image Source: New Hampshire State Parks