Like extreme weather? Or at least learning about it from a safe distance? If so, you may want to check out the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, as it’s one of the most important weather stations in the United States. Here are some cool facts you’ll surely find impressive!
Cool Facts About The Mount Washington Observatory
- It was here that the highest wind speed (231 mph) on the surface of the Earth was recorded on April 12, 1934.
- Built at an elevation of 6,288 feet, the observatory is located on rugged White Mountain National Park and New Hampshire State Park land. The only way up from the main office below in the winter is by Snow Cat. The trip can take an hour or a day, depending on conditions, and a crew of 6–8 alternate spending a week at a time at the observatory. Bad weather on shift change day can delay changing crews for 1–2 days.
- The Mount Washington Observatory has its roots in the Civil War period, when the Army signal service occupied the summit from 1879–1892. The nonprofit group operates the observatory, runs the Weather Discovery Center at its headquarters, and has conducted harsh-weather product testing for sponsors including catalog retailer L.L. Bean, Backpacker magazine, and Eastern Mountain Sports. The testing, government grants, a retail store, and observatory memberships support its programs.
- If you want to get up close and personal to the weather extremes on Mount Washington, the observatory offers an annual trip for volunteer observers, called the Winter EduTrip, where visitors are transported to the summit of the highest mountain in the Northeast to experience the weather room and meet some of the brightest young minds in meteorology. Would you go?
For Ed Bergeron, who has logged daily rain and snowfall totals in North Conway, New Hampshire, continuously for 60-plus years, and is the president of the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory, all the automated technology is great for blanketing the country with accurate weather data, but he maintains that personal observation can’t be beat if you want to fill in the details beyond a temperature or precipitation statistic. And those reports can be made by top meteorologists on Mount Washington or a weather fanatic in his or her backyard anywhere in the country.
“Boots on the ground is the best way to do it,’’ he said.
Have you ever visited the Mount Washington Observatory or do you plan to? Share your story with us in the comments below!
Jim Kneiszel is a freelance writer based in De Pere, Wisconsin. He edits a number of trade publications and runs The Word House with his wife, Judy. His article, Infuriating and Frightening Invasive Species appears in the 2021 Farmers' Almanac.