Work, Wit & Wild Weather at the Mount Washington Observatory
Barnes & Noble.com
Mount Washington Observatory tales
Experience the world's worst weather in the comfort of your own home. Weather jokes and puns abound in this amusing look at life on one of the world's deadliest mountains.
Where can you build a snowman in June, commute home by sled, and witness hurricane-force winds twelve months out of the year? The answer is only at the 6288-foot-high Mount Washington Observatory, perched amongst the clouds in New Hampshire's White Mountains. A record-breaking 231-mph gust of wind shrieked across the summit in 1934, earning the mountain its nickname: "Home of the World's Worst Weather."
A handful of hardy souls live at the meteorological observatory on the summit year-round, enduring savage thunderstorms, ten-foot snowdrifts, blinding fog, and odd questions from visitors ("Can you see New Hampshire from here?). Join veteran weather observer Eric Pinder on this whirlwind literary field trip to the top of Mount Washington. Discover what a meteorologist's typical day is like in the sometimes harsh, sometimes spectacular world above timberline. Come meet Nin the Cat, Marty on the Mountain, tobogganing ravens, meandering moose, hapless hikers, and more.
These humorous and informative stories about life on a mountaintop are sure to appeal to hikers and weather aficionados alike.
Foreword by meteorologist Mish Michaels.
From the introduction:
“DON’T KNOCK THE WEATHER,” says comedian Kin Hubbard. “Nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.”
Fortunately, our weather changes so often and so suddenly, there’s always something to talk about.
“One of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it,” said the curmudgeonly Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, back in 1876. “You fix up for the drought; you leave your umbrella in the house and sally out, and two to one you get drowned.” In the same speech he remarked, “I could speak volumes about the inhuman perversity of the New England weather, but I will give but a single specimen. I like to hear rain on a tin roof. So I covered part of my roof with tin, with an eye to that luxury. Well, sir, do you think it ever rains on that tin? No, sir, skips it every time.”
I first learned to read the sky in 1995 when I started a job that put me smack in the midst of stinging raindrops, swirling blizzards, hailstones hurled by hurricane-force winds, and fog almost thick enough to swim in. For years I studied and recorded the weather—and, yes, talked about it, too—at a mountaintop weather observatory in New Hampshire. You could say my career prospects were “looking up.”
New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory is one of the last human-run weather outposts in this age of computers and automated sensors. My experiences there inspired this book.
Reviewed by Diane Snyder
The summit of the White Mountains in New Hampshire is the highest point in New England at 6,288 feet. On it is the Mount Washington Observatory–one of the last man-run weather outposts. This summit is also known as the home of the “world’s worst weather,” mostly because hurricane force winds batter this peak more than 105 days a year.
The author, Eric Pinder, is writing about that what he knows. He spent seven years as an observer on Mount Washington. While everyone talks about the weather, it is obvious from his writing that he loves weather and finds unexpected humor and joy in its extremes and variances.
Among the Clouds gives a detailed account of the daily life on Mount Washington as a weather recorder as well as some humorous anecdotes that have happened to staff persons and visitors. Aside from a resident cat that lives at the Observatory year round, you might think life would be lonely and isolated, but apparently there is a continuous flow of hikers, tourists, media persons and researchers–and it is the staff who must see to the needs and safety of these people as well as act as tour guides, rescuers and medics when neede–while continuously monitoring the weather equipment and sending out weather reports.
Pinder sprinkles in lots of weather humor and trivia–why meteorologists use the word ‘front’ when talking about air masses, the temperature in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, and Ben Franklin’s invention of the odometer. Almost every other page has a photo. The disappointment is that the photos are not in color but they are still awesome.
This short (97 pages), easily read book would be enjoyed by young readers as well as adults and would make a great holiday gift for most anyone. It is not only witty, it is also educational.
Pinder’s really interesting web site should also be visited. He also gives the web site for the Mount Washington Observatory – http://www.mountwashington.org – which has more information about the weather station, current weather conditions there and educational projects available.
Armchair Interviews says: Ideal for someone who likes to read about unusual jobs–and also about weather–but will be enjoyed by all.
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