Cool Facts About The Mount Washington Observatory

Learn all about one of the most important weather stations in the country, accessible only by Snow Cat in winter!

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

  1. It was here that the highest wind speed (231 mph) on the surface of the Earth was recorded on April 12, 1934.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

Check out the web cams on the summit!

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!

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Jim Kneiszel

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.

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Had the pleasure of climbing it around 10 times. Never was at the summit in the winter. Closest was a Memorial Day weekend, when there was still plenty of snow. My son’s girlfriend used to be a meteorologist at the summit. Long long winters she said!

Heather B

We visited Mt. Washington twice and both times were completely different experiences! The first time it was so foggy you couldn’t see more than 40 feet in front of you! Easy to understand how someone could stray off and get lost. The second visit was beautiful and we could see for miles!! I was floored at all the beauty!! Both trips were wonderful experiences!!!

H Rosmarino

I love Mount Washington and have been there and I have watched it from afar over the internet since the 90s. Weather has always fascinated me and Mount Washington Observatory and the Farmers Almanac are great reads. Thank you both. 🙂


We visited Mt. Washington in the fall of 2014. A trip that was fantastic. The view unforgettable, the history and just looking out across the Presidential Range and beyond,I’ll never forget it.

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