Cold in NH today. Damn cold
March 6, 2007 12:53 PM   Subscribe

It was a cold day on Mount Washington in New Hampshire today, where the weather can really suck. With a temperature of -37F and a peak wind gust of 117mph, it was cold enough to turn boiling water to snow (youtube). Also, previously on MeFi.
posted by SteveInMaine (58 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
That was some cool shit. I could have done without the crappy crypto-emo-nu-metal soundtrack, however.
posted by psmealey at 12:58 PM on March 6, 2007

I am never going there. Ever.
posted by IronLizard at 12:59 PM on March 6, 2007

Your complaining about this to a Minnesotan?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:05 PM on March 6, 2007

It's cold and windy in Minnesota. But not THAT cold and windy.
posted by ORthey at 1:07 PM on March 6, 2007

Just watching that made my man-bits shrivel up.
posted by bardic at 1:09 PM on March 6, 2007

Not at this moment.

But, man, it's been worse.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:09 PM on March 6, 2007

my 2nd cousin worked up there until very recently...always meant to visit, but never got around to it. stupid me.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 1:09 PM on March 6, 2007

[this is good]
Does youtube mandate shitty music on all videos?
posted by boo_radley at 1:10 PM on March 6, 2007

I have a feeling that if it were -40 degrees out, the last thing I'd be doing is boiling water in a garage and then watching it turn to vapor, even if I had access to an infrared camera.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:11 PM on March 6, 2007

always meant to visit, but never got around to it. stupid me.

You pretty much just saw what you missed. Just without experiencing the actual frostbite and hypothermia.
posted by psmealey at 1:11 PM on March 6, 2007

TIME Magazine article (February 15, 2007): The Worst Weather in the World
"...the weather here is some of the worst in the world. Storms blow up without warning. Every so often a hiker caught unawares by plunging temperatures, fierce winds and snow squalls dies of hypothermia. And that's in summer."
posted by ericb at 1:13 PM on March 6, 2007

BTW -- as mentioned in the TIME article, you can visit and stay at the summit in the winter. Individuals pay "$459 each to ride a snow tractor to the summit and sleep in bunk beds for one of the two dozen or so overnight 'Edu-Trips' sponsored each year by the Mount Washington Observatory."
posted by ericb at 1:15 PM on March 6, 2007

A pleasant way to spend a day is if you visit Mount Washington during the hottest day in summer.

Also fun is to spend a few days hiking the Appalachian Trail throught the White Mountains staying in the various High Huts along the way. My -- and most everyone's -- favorite -- Lakes of the Clouds Hut.
posted by ericb at 1:19 PM on March 6, 2007

This is the current weather on the summit. right now, it's -30F with 95 mph winds. You get that a lot in Minnesota?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:22 PM on March 6, 2007

Wait - it looks like they've posted the weather for an hour from now. How'd they do that?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:24 PM on March 6, 2007

To add to Kirth Gerson's post: curently there are gusts of 102.4 mph and a wind chill of -83.6°F.
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on March 6, 2007

Mt. Washington webcams.
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on March 6, 2007

That's really cool!

Several summers when I was a kid my family hiked up to Bigelow Lawn there at the top, and I still remember my amazement at the snow still in Tuckerman's Ravine in the middle of July, and how my sister and I (8 and 10) had to hold onto each other to avoid being blown down as we were following the cairns across Bigelow.

An awesome place.
posted by OmieWise at 1:26 PM on March 6, 2007

Wait - it looks like they've posted the weather for an hour from now. How'd they do that?

I wonder if they didn't reset the clock back an hour last October.
posted by ericb at 1:28 PM on March 6, 2007

It's so windy that time speeds up, Kirth.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:28 PM on March 6, 2007

So when it blows the other way, they slow down again? There really was a basis for all those Superman plots?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:33 PM on March 6, 2007

We did this in a science class when I was in high school in Iowa. An entire bucket of hot water just turned into steam and dissipated before hitting the ground. I don't think we got snow though. It wasn't that cold that year.

Also, I don't think the infrared camera added anything to this video
posted by stopgap at 1:34 PM on March 6, 2007

my 2nd cousin worked up there until very recently

Your second cousin wouldn't have been Marty Engstrom, would he, paul smatatoes?
posted by briank at 1:37 PM on March 6, 2007

posted by inconsequentialist at 1:45 PM on March 6, 2007

SEE? I TOLD you there's no global warming!

Seriously, though. That's cool (heh) as hell. Fascinating.
posted by brundlefly at 1:59 PM on March 6, 2007

The University of RUHR? Where is that - Rumney?
I wonder how their football cheer goes....
posted by Flashman at 2:11 PM on March 6, 2007

Also, I think they should've filmed a control experiment - throwing pots of boiling water into the air at room temperature
posted by Flashman at 2:16 PM on March 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

I love Mt. Washington. If you visit during the summer, you can pay five bucks and get a nice personal tour of the observatory where one of the interns shows you all their cool stuff and lets you pet their cat. It's not much advertised, but ask at the gift shop/museum.
posted by zsazsa at 2:18 PM on March 6, 2007

My grandparents used to live in the shadow of the Mountain. It was always great to go there during the summer visits.

I remember waking up every morning and hearing the weather report from the observatory over coffee and toast. (My grandmother, bless her, wasn't much of a cook!)

Conditions like that always reinforces the mind boggle that happens when you think of people from long ago setting up camp up there. Or the stories of my gp's skiing down Tuck on skis that were basically planks with sharp metal edges tied to your boots!
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:20 PM on March 6, 2007

My dad and sister and I drove up Mt. Washington in a 1970 VW Beetle back when I was in middle school. One of the scariest rides of my life.
posted by octothorpe at 2:24 PM on March 6, 2007

Actually, in Minnesota it has gotten that cold in terms of wind chill (100 below zero F), and that's not at a mountain top. MN has gotten to -60 F straight temp. The Twin Cities is the coldest population center in the U.S., and pretty regularly gets to -20 F straight temp with some amounts of winds.

So, the difference between this observatory and MN is that in NH they're out running experiments in this type of weather, in MN they're grocery shopping.

That said, MN agriculture might gain from global warming, although the mosquito problem could get even worse...which is difficult to believe if you've spent a summer there.
posted by Muddler at 2:29 PM on March 6, 2007

Somebody lied to me. Either just now or 15 years ago.

Grand Rapids, MI. On or about 1994. Temperature is -40F. I went out to get my mail without a coat on. I was not instantly turned to snow.
posted by DU at 2:47 PM on March 6, 2007

Does youtube mandate shitty music on all videos?

Does MetaFilter mandate elitism in all responses?
posted by knave at 2:54 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

No, that's just an added bonus.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:54 PM on March 6, 2007

briank, it's Neil Lareau.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 2:58 PM on March 6, 2007

The last leg of my Appalachian Trail '96 hike was from Mt. Washington to Mt. Katahdin. I drove up Mt. Washington on a bright, sunny, hot early September day. When I got out of the car at the summit it was suddenly February. The winds were over 60 mph and it was snowing. Icicles were growing off of rocks sideways. Everything was covered in ice. It was unbelievable. I was totally unprepared.

Eventually, just over the Maine line, I had my winter gear sent up to me. But it was a cold couple of weeks. The Whites are just a whole different world.
posted by waldo at 3:10 PM on March 6, 2007

It's windy as hell even down here in nice, safe, comparatively balmy Nashua. I'm going outside right now dressed up like the kid in A Christmas Story who, when he falls, can't get back up again.
posted by SteelyDuran at 3:11 PM on March 6, 2007

Glad to see there's already a mention of Marty on the Mountain (Youtube link). I can't think about Mt. Washington without thinking of him.

And yes, it is DAMN cold here in Maine today!
posted by suki at 3:13 PM on March 6, 2007

According to author Julian May, in the near future a bunch of human mind-mutants will summon a vast alien armada to appear above Mount Washington to save us from ourselves. So we've got that to look forward to.

Unfortunately, most of the mind-mutants are French-Canadians, so there's really gonna be a downside.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 3:20 PM on March 6, 2007


I did about 800 miles on the AT in summer 2003. I walked up Mt. Washington from Lakes of the Crowds on a bright, sunny, not-so-hot early September day. It was a low-to-mid exertion climb without obvious hazards. When I got to the top, the temps were in the 50s, with winds gusting up to 12 knots. It was unbelievable. Having seen signs like this I was totally unprepared.

The worst part was the gift shop at the top didn't sell patches you could sew on your shorts reading "This Ass Climbed Mount Washington." That would've made up for the unbelievably nice weather.

I like your story better.
posted by Opposite George at 3:30 PM on March 6, 2007

looks kinda chilly, yah?
yah, you betcha.
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:31 PM on March 6, 2007

It's also cold enough for that in Minnesota.

It's cool to see what volume of snow is produced by what amount of water. It clouded up their alcove pretty well when they threw the pot. Of course though, I seem to recall something about a bucket of water being enough to produce fog over a rediculously large area of land, but then I don't remember what the amount was quite... Hm.
posted by taursir at 3:33 PM on March 6, 2007

Tried to visit Mt. Washington once in late December and the ranger guy laughed at us. It was a beautiful but cold day at the base but the winds at the top were apparently blowing at well over 100mph and the wind chill was something obscene like -100F+. The guy said it would freeze the oil in a running car. That seemed a bit apocalyptic to me but since we were in a rental we bade him goodbye.

Crazy weather up there. Would have liked to have seen it though.
posted by elendil71 at 3:45 PM on March 6, 2007

it feels that cold here today.
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 3:57 PM on March 6, 2007

Yeah -- it's cold here, too, in Boston.

Brrrrr! Coldest March Day in Massachusetts since 1950.
posted by ericb at 4:08 PM on March 6, 2007

that's fucked up.
posted by philcliff at 4:17 PM on March 6, 2007

I can't believe no one has mentioned the alarming wall of fame of sorts in the summit visitor center that lists all the poor folks who've died on that mountain. Anyway, it was frickin' cold on the NH seacoast as well.
posted by Toecutter at 4:17 PM on March 6, 2007

Just last month a couple of co-workers absolutely refused to believe me when I told them that, once wind chill is factored in, Mt. Washington has one of the coldest climates on Earth. I passed this around today and it seemed to shut them up pretty quick. Great timing. NH Pride!
posted by nathancaswell at 4:46 PM on March 6, 2007

I can't believe no one has mentioned the alarming wall of fame of sorts in the summit visitor center

What's really horrible about some of those is how close the casualties were to help, and, thanks to weather, totally unable to find it. Lizzie Bourne was found dead of hypothermia in 1855 mere steps from the Summit Hotel. In September, no less.

The Appalachian Mountain Club's journal Appalachia used to have a section recapping situations gone horribly wrong in the Whites and elsewhere since the last publication date. Dunno if they still have it, but going through back issues in the sitting area of the Lakes hut was a pretty sobering read.
posted by Opposite George at 5:13 PM on March 6, 2007

Some friends and I hiked the Whites a few years ago in October.

We had every form of precipitation that trip: rain, snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain, etc. and wind so strong at the summits it would knock us on our back. We had to yell to hear each other even when we were standing fairly close.

It was brutally awesome.
posted by MasonDixon at 5:34 PM on March 6, 2007

I've never been up there (but climbed Katahdin south face once, awesome)... sounds like "fun," heh.

What's the deal, is the top of the mountain sitting in the Jet Stream or something? Just some lucky arrrangement of wind patterns, funneling thru that stretch of mountains?
posted by zoogleplex at 5:48 PM on March 6, 2007


The explanation they gave when I was there is that a combination of prevailing wind patterns and local topography ends up funneling wind right into Mt. Washington, at which point the air has nowhere to go but up and over really fast. I have no idea if that's the incredibly-simplified-story-we-tell-to-idiot-hikers version or if the Jet Stream has anything to do with it but it sounded pretty good to me.
posted by Opposite George at 6:06 PM on March 6, 2007

Making instant snow like that is not likely to work down here on earth, but sometime in the late 1960s during a particularly cold snap in Cambridge, Mass., some of my college dorm mates brought a garbage can full of snow into the shower room for a snowball fight. Then somebody got the bright idea to phone the Boston Globe and tell them it was so cold, they had opened the shower room window, turned on the showers, and behold, the steam from the showers turned to snow. Before the Globe photographer got there, they trucked in more snow, and the photo ended up on page one the next day with the headline "MIT proves Snow + Steam = Snow". The photo and story made it onto the wire services before the Globe figured out it was a prank.
posted by beagle at 6:13 PM on March 6, 2007

Been up there twice in the winter, never when it was this cold though. Climbing it on a day like today is just suicide.

The first time I did it it was a beautiful 40 degrees and sunny January day, I've seen it colder in July. The second time it was about ten degrees, windy as hell, and you could hardly see fifty feet in front of you.

It's an awesome climb in the winter, except when you get to the top you suddenly find yourself climbing the last few feet up a metal staircase. Sort of an anticlimax.
posted by bondcliff at 6:34 PM on March 6, 2007

Yep, never going within 500 miles of there.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 7:10 PM on March 6, 2007

Nothing quite like climbing a mountain for five hours to reach the car park at the top.
posted by smackfu at 7:20 PM on March 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Okay, here's a more detailed explanation of how the weather on Mt. Washington works, courtesy of the fine folks at Looks pretty close to the story they fed to me and the rest of the hikers.

BTW, on top of the brutal cold, Tuesday's Avalanche Advisory reported HIGH and CONSIDERABLE danger in Tuckerman's and Huntington's ravines, respectively. They also, in typical understatement, suggested folks venturing into the bowls be "at the very top of [their] game."
posted by Opposite George at 11:43 PM on March 6, 2007

In early February, we did the water -> snow trick in the parking lot at work.

I r winnar of teh cold gamez.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:02 AM on March 7, 2007

« Older cool memories   |   Lots and lots of cupcakes Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments