Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mount Washington loses wind speed record

Since 1934, Mount Washington in New Hampshire has held the record for the fastest wind gust ever recorded on the surface of the Earth. In a report released last Friday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), that record was toppled on April 10, 1996 at an unmanned station in Barrow Island, Australia during Typhoon Olivia. According to the report, the new record now stands at 253 mph.

“It was bound to happen, but it’s definitely quite a shock to hear that news,” says Scot Henley, Executive Director of the Mount Washington Observatory. “While we are disappointed that it appears that Mount Washington may have been bumped from the top, at our core we are all weather fans and we are very impressed with the magnitude of that typhoon and the work of the committee that studied it.”

Cara Rudio, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Observatory has been fielding many questions from the media, mainly as to why it took 14 years to figure this out. The quick answer according to Rudio is that it didn't: the record has been there all along. It was recorded by the Barrow Island station when it occurred, but not publicized until the WMO evaluation panel stumbled upon it while conducting a review of world records.

Mount Washington’s famous wind gust of 231 mph, recorded on April 12, 1934 at the Mount Washington Observatory, still stands as the record for the fastest surface wind measured in the Northern and Western Hemispheres.

“The new record does not diminish the fact that Mount Washington is one of the fiercest places on the planet,” says Ken Rancourt, Mount Washington Observatory’s Director of Summit Operations. “It remains consistently one of the windiest places on Earth and a location that begs further study of wind, weather and climate.”

Mount Washington Observatory, which operates within the 59-acre Mt. Washington State Park, is a private, non-profit, membership-supported organization. Since 1932, the Observatory has been monitoring the elements in one of the most extreme locations on Earth, using this unique site for scientific research and educational outreach.

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