Today, Will Broussard from the Mount Washington Observatory visited our 5thGraders to give them an in-depth view of what it is like to observe the weather at the top of Mt. Washington, where Will and his team work with the National Weather Service to provide the greater New England area with weather forecasts.
Will shared that the weather station sitting at the summit of Mt. Washington has been operating since the 1930s, with record temperatures of 72F to -47F. He asked the 5th Graders to use their observation skills to note the absence of any trees near the top of Mt. Washington and shared that the high winds and frozen fog prevents tree growth in that area. Lower down, trees grow to only about our ankles. Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, summiting at 6288 feet. The children showed off their cloud naming skills, identifying clouds from Cumulus, Stratus, Cirrus, and Lenticular (lens shaped clouds that resemble UFOs). On a clear day, one can see up to 130 feet into the distance.
We then connected live to the observatory and talked to Tom about his job observing the weather. He works 12 hour shifts for 7-8 days and lives at the Observatory during his shifts. Tom showed us the instruments used to record the weather and the discussed the harsh windy, cold conditions with which he contends. We were shown a video of Tom playing in the high winds and saw another video of an observer changing the precipitation can. A third video highlighted how the weather observers remove rime ice from their instruments.
Questions to ask your 5th Graders:
Q. What is the highest wind speed recorded at the observatory?
A. 231 MPH
Q. What is the record low temperature observed?
Q. What is the name of the Observatory’s pet?
A. Marty the Cat