Summer may be around the corner, but it’s still a blustery deep freeze at the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
A weather observer went into battle to experience the ferocious 100-mph-plus winds at the tallest peak in the Northeast (6,289 feet) in a video that’s been whizzing across the Internet this week.
Mike Dorfman, a weather observer and IT specialist for the Mount Washington Observatory, can be seen struggling to walk or stand up straight. At one point, he jumps in the air, and the winds, which reached speeds of 109 mph, toss him to the ground and send him sliding across the snow-covered observation deck.
“Wind on the summit is an experience that you can’t just describe to understand. It makes you fully appreciate that air is in fact a fluid and not empty space. It is really impossible to safely face down hundred-mile-per-hour winds almost anywhere else,” Dorfman wrote in a blog post accompanying the video.
It would be nearly impossible to find another environment where a person can experience such intense winds without serious risks of bodily harm, he said.
According to the observatory’s website, 29.1 mph is the normal average speed for winds recorded at Mount Washington in the month of May. The fastest wind gust ever reported on the mountain clocked in at 231 mph back in April 1934 and held a world record for nearly 62 years. It lost that title in 1996 when an unmanned instrument station on Barrow Island, Australia, recorded 253-mph winds during a typhoon.
Mount Washington Observatory is a private nonprofit dedicated to improving understanding of the natural systems that create the earth’s climate. Two crews alternate living at the summit to conduct research a week at a time, so the mountaintop observatory has been staffed continuously since the group’s founding.