Blogging the world's worst weather
August 25, 2005 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Living on top of Mt. Washington. 09:50 PM Thu Aug 18, 2005 EDT - ... In the air this morning there was an undeniable chill and on the ground a touch of frost...Clear air pooling south from Canada opened views to the distant Adirondacks as well as deep into Quebec and all our surrounding states...just six week until snow can be expected.
Just a taste of this daily "blog" kept by observers living on the top of the tallest peak in the Northeast US. Redux of a previous post, but the blog is interesting enough to put it forth once again.
posted by Jazznoisehere (24 comments total)
Aug 25: It's cold today.
Aug 26: It's still cold.
Aug 27: It got a little colder today.
Aug 28: We saw an airplane today. It was fast.
Aug 29: We saw another airplane, this one was white. It's pretty cold.
Aug 30: It rained, then snowed, then rained, then sleeted, and was pretty cold and foggy today.
Aug 31: Bob found a small plant while he was running from the rain yesterday.

Seriously though, it's surreal to have a job where you sit on a mountain like that. Apparently, they have an internet connection... think they have the Bahamas bookmarked?
posted by cleverusername at 2:36 PM on August 25, 2005

This is interesting. What a nice little hill.
[-a native coloradoan]
posted by koeselitz at 2:45 PM on August 25, 2005

Camped up there once, in these open-fronted cabins. The wind was so strong blowing across the open front that it created a vacuum in the cabin. To breathe at night we had to seek out air coming in through the cracks in the floor.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:52 PM on August 25, 2005

Not a hospitable environment.
posted by caddis at 3:29 PM on August 25, 2005

Mount Washington, up in Maine! It's got a bit of elevation!
posted by wakko at 3:37 PM on August 25, 2005

Speaking of wind, Mt. Washington holds the world record (set in 1934) for surface wind speed at 231 MPH and, on the average, the winds exceed hurricane force (75 MPH) 104 days a year. Yow!

More info - and webcams - here.
posted by shinybeast at 3:45 PM on August 25, 2005

They had a bike race on the auto road last weekend. The women's winner was blown off her bike by a 40 mph gust but managed to re-mount and win.
posted by fixedgear at 4:02 PM on August 25, 2005

I accidentally hiked all the way (well, almost all the way) .up Mt. Washington (long, long story) midsummer 2001. I was amazed at the rapid temperature drop. I was even more amazed by the fact that I was getting blow all over the place (I weighed well over 300lbs back then). I finally turned back after too many *whoooosh* *splat* incidents.
posted by zerokey at 4:06 PM on August 25, 2005

"zerokey: "I was even more amazed by the fact that I was getting blow all over the place..."

Well, that's what you get for trying to snort cocaine in the windiest damned place in the world.

posted by koeselitz at 4:11 PM on August 25, 2005

(I love when someone else pointing out my typo makes me snarf..thanks :)
posted by zerokey at 4:28 PM on August 25, 2005

Mount Washington is not a mountain to be mocked. Some friends went on a field trip to hike it in June years ago, in shorts and summer gear. By the time they got to the summit (or where ever their common sense kicked in) they were hiking in ten to twelve inches of snow in tennis shoes.

Funny, I'm normally bummed when I miss field trips but I wasn't so upset about missing this one. I still have all my toes.
posted by fenriq at 5:06 PM on August 25, 2005

I've never been up Mount Washington (though when I was a kid, my dad put a "this car climbed Mt. Washington" sticker on my bike as a joke), but I've been to the bottom on several occasions.

I was so carsick from the trip up the White Mountains that I couldn't go up to the top. I just barfed all over the base. Stupidly, my parents decided after the first time this happened that it would be worth trying again. Yeah. Thanks.

This story has no point. I just wanted to say that I barfed there.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:28 PM on August 25, 2005

The disappointing thing about hiking Mt. Washington (in New Hampshire, not Maine...) is that if you haven't been told otherwise, you get severe disappointment at finding a full-fledged cafeteria, rest stop, parking lot, railroad stop, and a multiplicity of other amenities of civilization at the summit! Rising above treeline to scramble over what you think are the final boulders only to discover a parking lot kind of reduces the awesomeness of the climb. But the view, my god, the view makes the touristry at the top all forgivable!
posted by superfem at 6:34 PM on August 25, 2005

The thing about Washington is that the Jet Stream dips down to a lower altitude in the area (AFAIK, this doesn't happen in Colorado). When the Stream is on the mountain, things get outrageous. The older buildings on the summit are chained down for a reason.

It doesn't have a lot of elevation, but Mt. Washington has killed a fair number of people.

posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:10 PM on August 25, 2005

when i was in boy scouts we used to climb mt. washington all the time, all the way to the top with a full backpack. geeze, i look back at that now...
posted by brandz at 7:11 PM on August 25, 2005

Okay, Mainer MeFites, help me remember the name of the goofy-looking guy who used to be one of the NWS guys on top of Mt. Washington and did weather reports on Channel 8 that ended with him making a stupid grin.

Mayor Curley, anastasiav,, one of you must remember this (and it's not worth an AskMe post).
posted by briank at 7:37 PM on August 25, 2005

Mayor Curley, anastasiav,, one of you must remember this...

I can't answer this, and for a typically Maine reason-- until I was about 14, we couldn't get cable and Channel 8 came in really crappy over the antenna. So we rarely watched it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:52 PM on August 25, 2005

Kirth Gerson: all snarks aside, I am impressed. That's some mountain. Also, I go to school in Boston now, so I know the truth: cold back east is really different from crisp, dry, bright Colorado cold. I've seen ten below for a week at a stretch before, but east-side cold just gets in yer BONES. Add to that the fact that this seems to be an incredibly freakish place, and you've got... somewhere I might have to visit in the near future.

Thanks, Jazznoisehere. Neat post.
posted by koeselitz at 9:30 PM on August 25, 2005

Harrowing near-disaster tale of hike in the Presis.

a nice little hill. [-a native coloradoan]

Higher avalanche danger apart, nothing in Colorado is quite worthy of such awe and caution (see prev. link), wouldn't you agree?
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:26 PM on August 25, 2005

I have hiked up Mt. Washington. I am sorry to report that it was hardly windy at all, and generally I don't remember the hike being particularly strenuous, other than getting quite wet. I guess we got lucky with the weather that day. It's a real bastard when you get to the top and realize there is a bloody train full of fat tourists at the summit.
posted by snoktruix at 11:33 PM on August 25, 2005

Zurishaddai: "Higher avalanche danger apart, nothing in Colorado is quite worthy of such awe and caution (see prev. link), wouldn't you agree?"

I didn't say that. I said it was impressive. But keep in mind, it got to 46 degrees below zero at my house last winter. Mount Washington and the rest of the presidentials sound like a brutal place to live, but the fact remains: they don't build cafeterias at the tops of mountains in Colorado.
posted by koeselitz at 11:46 PM on August 25, 2005

Wife and I drove up Mt. Washington a couple of weeks back. Actually, wife drove and I held on for dear life.

The weatherman you're thinking of, briank, is Marty Engstrom, who retired in 2002.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:57 AM on August 26, 2005

Koeselitz: they don't build cafeterias at the tops of mountains in Colorado

Really? Isn't there a road up to the top of Pike's Peak? Presumably a cafeteria as well, no? And: 46 below ambient temp, or wind chill equivalent?

I would be tempted to visit the summit of Mount Washington more often if it weren't for the train and road shlepping hordes of tourons to the absurd gift shop at the top. Similar views and extreme weather can be sampled the entire length of the Presidential Range, or on Franconia ridge (mounts Lafayette and Lincoln) to the south. I visit Mount Washington to backcountry ski and ice climb regularly, but seldom am tempted to forge on to the top, because I know what silliness awaits there.

Finally, the fact remains that by virtue of the combination of easy accessibility and amazingly brutal weather, Mt. Washington is the site of the greatest number of hiking/mountaineering fatalities of any mountain in the United States.
posted by bumpkin at 9:23 AM on August 26, 2005

Brilliant, Steve, thank you!
posted by briank at 1:17 PM on August 26, 2005

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