Mount Washington

Good Gig: Night Meteorologist On Mount Washington

Feb 4, 2015
Courtesy Mount Washington Weather Observatory

Being the night meteorologist at the top of Mount Washington might not sound like a Good Gig for some people, but for Ryan Knapp, it's the perfect place to experience weather first hand. So what kind of person would be happy working at a place known for having the worst weather in the world?

Boiling water to snow in just seconds!  

Don McCullough via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/pGTbyX

The media often portrays Sweden as a modernist utopia – where blond-haired trend makers export upbeat pop music, hip furniture and meat balls, and parents enjoy unparalleled family leave. On today’s show: debunking the myth of the Scandinavian utopia.

And we uncover a growing trend among the DIY set: Ikea hacking, where people use Ikea’s raw materials to create their own customized furniture.

And our series Good Gig continues with a meteorologist based on the beautiful, but often inhospitable, summit of Mount Washington.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

John Cudworth via Flickr CC

 Mount Washington has recorded its first avalanche of the season.

Snow rangers say a climber descending Yale Gully on Monday triggered a small avalanche below him.

The rangers advised that traveling through small snowfields can put hikers into or underneath unstable snow.

A general avalanche advisory for the mountain, which has the highest peak in the Northeast United States at 6,288 feet, expires at midnight Thursday.

: Map by Steve Bushey and Angela Faeth, with added notes by Taylor Quimby

In 1934, a weather observer stationed at the peak of Mount Washington recorded a, then record, wind gust of 231 miles per hour. As a point of reference, that’s in the same neighborhood as an F5 tornado.

Even on hot summer day, conditions at the peak can drop below freezing in a matter of minutes – which is just one reason more than 135 people have died in the shadow of Mount Washington since 1859.

And yet, Mount Washington isn’t just Home of the World’s Worst Weather--as a sign at the summit famously boasts--it’s also home to a weather station, where a team of researchers are able to safely live year-round.

Which begs the question: would the Mount Washington Observatory be the perfect place to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Listen to this radio story to find out:

Mt Washington NH 2013-0420254
Dave Marcy / Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of hikers are heading up the summit of the Northeast's highest peak to raise money for the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory.  The annual "Seek the Peak'' fundraiser at Mount Washington is being held Saturday. The event has raised more than $1.3 million since 2001, helping the observatory maintain its famous weather station atop the summit.   In 1934, observatory staff recorded a 231 mph gust that remains the highest wind speed ever observed by man. A remote sensor later recorded a 253 mph gust off Australia during a 1996 typhoon.   

Selbe B via Flickr CC

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the Mount Washington Cog Railway's daily trips to the summit of the highest peak in the Northeast.

The Cog Railway opened its 2014 season April 26, but operated weekends only until now.

This season marks the 145th year of operation of "the Cog."

The popular tourist attraction is also rolling out a new biodiesel engine during the holiday weekend. The new engine is named Metallak, in honor of the last surviving member of the local Abenaki tribe.

fply via Flickr Creative Commons

Fish and Game officers rescued two Ohio hikers from a trail on Mount Washington Thursday night because the pair didn’t have flashlights.

The husband and wife, Robert Scanlon and Candy Neville – both in their mid-60’s - from Shaker, Heights Ohio, rode the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington, Fish and Game Lt. Wayne Saunders said in a news release.

Then, they decided to hike down on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.

But Scanlon began having knee pain on the rocky trail, slowing their descent and it got dark before they could reach the bottom.

A 25-year-old hiker was fatally injured in a fall Thursday afternoon while coming down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail on Mount Washington, according to Sgt. Mark Ober of New Hampshire Fish and Game.

The man was hiking with friends and left the trail to get water and a better look at a waterfall when he slipped and fell about 150 feet “landing on a small ledge approximately three quarters of the way up the Headwall," Ober wrote in a news release.

The Unusual Ascenders

May 31, 2013
Sean Hurley

The 3rd Annual Alton Weagle Unusual Ascent Day took place this past Monday on Mount Washington.  With fresh snow closing the summit, participants still gathered at the base of the Auto Road to walk, ran, paddle and roll their way to the snowline.  As NHPR’s Sean Hurley reports, it’s an event that blends the difficult with the whimsical. 

75 year old Otok Ben-Hvar stares at the white powder top of Mount Washington. He’s about to go rolling along the Auto Road in a shambling contraption of five inner tubes.  

Three climbers caught in an avalanche Thursday got a rapid, tumbling ride down Mount Washington’s Huntington Ravine. But apparently they were not seriously injured.

The men were in the central gully of the Huntington Ravine when the avalanche occurred just after 5 pm, said Joe Lentini, a team leader for the Mountain Rescue Service, which participated in the rescue.

The snow rushing down the mountain was about waist deep, not enough to make being buried likely.

Mount Washington
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stacylynn/5983584658/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="blank">Stacy Lynn Baum</a> via Flickr/CC

The summit of New Hampshire’s highest mountain is, of course, known for the “worst weather in the world.” But we learned late last week that the summit of Mount Washington is also home to some of the greatest questions in the world.

"This mountain is man made, isn't it?"
"Which of those mountains out there is Everest?"
"Is this named after the state of Washington?"
"What percentage of people who come up here die?"

N.H. Fish and Game

A 15-year-old was carried off Mount Washington Monday after he fell and injured his leg, according to a news release from Fish and Game.

Conservation Officer Matt Holmes said Michael Hery of Peabody, Massachusetts, was heading down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail Monday morning when he fell.

Hery was traveling with his father, Peter, and a friend and the father went to the AMC’s Lakes of the Clouds hut for help.

Employees of the hut then helped the youth get back to the hut where his leg was put in a splint.

Mount Washington
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stacylynn/5983584658/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="blank">Stacy Lynn Baum</a> via Flickr/CC

Mount Washington may bill itself as having the “worst weather in the world,” but on a clear day, you can stand at the summit and see a whole lot - miles and miles into the distance.

The US military apparently agrees. According to a report from Wired Magazine, the Department of Defense has a base for drone aircraft on or near Mount Washington. It's one of 64 such bases across the country.

A Massachusetts man fell into a deep crevasse in the Tuckerman Ravine Sunday afternoon and is thought to have died, according to a news release late Monday from the White Mountain National Forest.

The man was identified as Norman Priebatsch of Boston.  He was said to be in his late 60’s.

He was hiking with friends when he tripped and slid down a slope before falling into a crevasse between areas known as the Lunch Rocks and The Lip.

Mount Washington
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stacylynn/5983584658/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="blank">Stacy Lynn Baum</a> via Flickr/CC

The winter storm was a change of pace for just about every part of New Hampshire, with the exception of Mount Washington. The forecasters who work at the Mount Washington Observatory say they’ve been getting snow all week, and at night winds of over 100 miles per hour.

Several new records were set Saturday for first ascents of the Mount Washington Auto Road involving roller skis, a unicycle and driving backwards.

 “I felt quite comfortable to four-mile but from there up it was getting hard,” said Sue Wemyss, 51, of Randolph. She arrived first, skiing up the 7.6 miles in two hours and 15 seconds.

 While the weather was mostly clear the last few miles were in windy, foggy conditions.

 “I really didn’t know where I was the last mile or so,” she said. “When I came to where the service road cuts off I knew I was close.”