Snow has returned to the top of Mount Washington

Even though leaves are just beginning to fall throughout the region, the snow was actually late to arrive this year atop the scenic peak.

Snow returned to Mount Washington over the weekend.

Yes, snow.

In October.

But while fall is in full swing in New England, the snowfall atop the New Hampshire mountain was apparently behind schedule.

The 1.1 inches that piled up Saturday on top of the 6,228-foot peak usually makes its first appearance within the first two weeks of September, Adam Gill, a weather observer and IT specialist at the mountain’s observatory, told Monday.

“It is pretty late,” he said.

Gill attributed the tardy arrival to the inability for a cold front to slip in for much of September.

“This year we had that big ridge that set up over the East Coast and stuck around,” he said.


Now, with the snowy signal of winter’s coming return, the observatory crew is continuing to prep for the cold season, which can bring temperatures as low as 10 degrees below zero on an average night, Gill said.

On Monday, the observatory’s weather staff swapped out its window panes with bulletproof glass, he said. The material is better equipped to handle the frigid, strong winds — which can hit 100 mph during snowstorms — and falling ice.

The new installments were set to get their first run Monday evening as another storm moved onto the mountain, forecasted to bring mostly rain with a chance for some snow and 70 to 90 mph wind gusts, according to Gill.

Observatory staff, who typically take week-long shifts at the outpost, also put away summer instruments and checked all the interior heating systems and back-up electric generators as part of their checklist in readying for the winter, Gill said.

A weather observer on the mountain for three years, Gill said the colder, harsher weather doesn’t bother him.

“I’ve always been a fan of very bad weather … I’m very exited that we’re starting to see snow and more intense storms,” he said.

However, the only thing about life atop Mount Washington that can be a bit scary, according to Gill, is when the air pressure changes during winter storms. The fluctuation causes lights in the observatory to flicker and toilets to flush on their own, he said.


“We make fun of thinking like, ‘the presence,’ like the building is haunted,” he said, assuring though that there’s nothing he considers paranormal at the observatory.

For folks thinking of heading up to the mountain in the coming days and weeks, Gill advises to be careful about what you bring.

This time of year is when the difference in weather and temperature between the mountaintop and valley can be rather drastic, he said. A margin of 30 degrees often separates the two places.

“You might pack for fall, but you might really need winter gear,” Gill said.


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