I believe I can fly: Weather observer braves 109 mph winds to create viral video
What to do when you're hanging around at one of the windiest spots on Earth on a cold, wintry mid-May Monday morning as hurricane-force winds rage on?
Why, go outside and become an internet sensation!
Weather observers Mike Dorfman and Tom Padham braved a particularly windy morning at New Hampshire's Mt. Washington observatory to show the world just what it's like to stand outside when winds reach 100 mph or more -- peaking at 109, according to their notes. Who needs a chair?
Wow! But it's not just the wind that would make this an epic experience, temperatures were around 15 degrees that morning. What would that make the wind chill? Let's see:
Oh, apparently the National Weather Service doesn't really think wind speeds of 109 mph are all that common in winter! Go figure.
Actually, it's because once you get about 50 mph, the wind chill is nearly steady. When winds are raging that much, it's doing a bang-up job of blowing away any kind of warmth near your skin's surface. So 50 mph or 109 mph, it still feels like roughly -11, and either way, you probably have greater concerns than hypothermia -- like, not getting blown off the side of a mountain.
That's genuinely a concern at Mt. Washington, which for decades held the world record for strongest wind gust ever recorded on the Earth's surface at 231 mph, done on April 12, 1934. It has since been topped by an unmanned instrument clocking a 256 mph gust on Australia's Barrow Island during Typhoon Olivia in 1996. But Mt. Washington's gust was clocked by observers, and their observatory's web site gives the amazing tale of how their crew managed that feat.
Want to try this at home?
If you ever wanted to experience blistering winds, you don't have to go to New Hampshire. The Pacific Northwest has its own wind tunnel along the Columbia River Gorge.
The Crown Point Observatory, about an half hour or so east of Portland, routinely gets major wind events when the pattern is favorable for strong east winds in the winter. There have been a number of occasions when wind speeds there have topped 100 mph and the scenes at the observatory have mimicked what you saw from the brave Mt. Washington crew this week, only without all the freezing fog and below-zero wind chills:
You can keep tabs on Crown Park's current conditions here.