Low Temperature Daily Record Broken On Mount Washington Summit

Dec 28, 2017

What it looks like when you pour boiling water into ultra-cold air on top of Mount Washington
Credit Mount Washington Observatory

When weather observer Tom Padham answered the phone inside the Mount Washington Observatory at the summit around midday Thursday, it was 52 degrees -- inside.

“Out the windows, it's pretty ice-covered...we're still in the clouds...and it's, I think, warmed up to about 26-below at the moment,” he said. “I’m talking on the phone with gloves and a hat on.”

He and his team saw the Observatory’s coldest temperature ever recorded on a December 28 around 5 a.m. It was negative 34 degrees.

That came alongside wind chills at minus 89 degrees, with sustained winds over 100 miles per hour.

Padham says that makes soap bubbles outside pop into snowflakes, boiling water turn to ice in mid-air. And, he says, frostbite can happen in 60 seconds.

“When we're going outside on an hourly basis for our weather observations, we're definitely really sure that every single inch of skin is covered,” he says.

He adds as it gets milder at the summit, the chill will move down into the surrounding towns, making them colder even than the summit.

“A lot of the cold air that’s up here at 6,000 feet is going to be working its way into the valleys overnight tonight,” Padham says.

The all-time low atop Mount Washington was minus 47 degrees, recorded in December of 1934.