[at-l] Weather craziness

Ryan Crawford nayrdrofwarc at gmail.com
Sat Dec 4 22:07:06 CST 2010

Quite often times during the winter months you'll find inversions occuring 
under crystal clear skies.  I had my encounter up on Moosilauke quite a few 
years ago.  I kept trying to find the decent weather to go hiking in the 
Whites...yet alone during the winter.  Everytime I would get almost to the 
top to get nailed by the weather, whether it be clouds or wind.

I finally started thinking it through.  It always seemed like I was getting 
nailed by the forecast.  The forecast would be in my favor but the reality 
was otherwise.  I decided to try a new approach.  Instead of trying to find 
two days back to back that would be sunny skies I went for three instead. 
Figuring, it seemed like the Whites were acting like a magnet to the 
outgoing storm front and a magnet to the incoming storm front.  The longer 
time delay I saw between the storm fronts, I figured, the better my chances 
of getting nice weather.

I finally found a nice stretch and called it 24 hours beforehand and decided 
to head up on the night before the full moon in December '04 or '05.  As I 
drove up from central NH I did notice as I got beside Mt. Sunapee that the 
temperature had climb.  At least according to the overhead console in my car 
it had.  I didn't think anything about it.  I got to the parking lot on the 
south side of the AT.  It was 0 F.  I decided to try to keep as little on as 
possible it keep from sweating.  I started the hike up and it was long 
before I noticed it seemed rather strange.  It felt like it was warming up. 
I remind my plan was to hit the top right at sunrise.

I continued climb and finally after a while took a layer off.  I got on up 
to the left hand turn where the DOC trail coming up from the DOC cabin meets 
the AT, right around treeline.  I put on some extra clothes and took a 
look...finally, at the thermometer I had taken with me.  I about crapped my 
pants.  It 26 F and the sun was still below the horizon.  I missed the 
sunrise from the top by about 4-5 cairns.  I was totally above the trees 
though so I was darn close.  I ended up spending an hour up top with 28 F, 
dead calm winds, and 100% clear skies.  As I headed back down I noticed it 
was still only around 10 F when I got back to my car.

I drove home and took a quick look first thing on www.mountwashington.org 
and saw it was still showing EXTREMELY light winds and around 30 F.  It 
ended up being the warmest spot in New England for the entire day.

A few weeks later I used the same approach to have my first great day up on 
Lafayette.  The inversion wasn't quite as pronounced but I would say it was 
still there.

During the winter months the colder it is overnight the greater you chances 
for seeing extreme temperature inversions.

I saw one happen here a few weeks ago.  The forecast had been for 4 days in 
a row of sunshine.  I hadn't thought about it until I woke up in the morning 
and after looking at the thermometer hanging outside the kitchen window and 
seeing 26 F and then seeing Lebanon/Hanover was only reporting 23 F it got 
me to thinking.  I quickly hopped ontro MW.org and took a look.  It was 
showing 41 F and very light winds.

Yeah, you typically want to see a warm front coming through if you want to 
find a nice temperature inversion but if you have a nice pocket of cold 
air...0 - subzero on the ground their are good chances you'll find what I 
indicated above as the results.  If you want clear skies, calm winds and 
warmer temps at the summit than the base...look for temperature inversions 
and go hike.

GAME '97 

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