Happy Big Wind Day!

12 Apr

On this same day in 1934, the highest wind speed on Earth was recorded at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire.  It was officially recorded at 231 mph.

A pitot tube static anemometer. Photo from of accuweather.com

Today, I talked with Stacey Kawecki, a worker at the observatory for three and a half years, about what goes on at the Mount Washington Observatory today.  She said that they measure wind speed with a pitot tube static anemometer, which is actually a piece of equipment originally used on airplanes to determine how fast the plane is going.  This one has been adapted with the addition of a wind vane and heater for determining wind speed.

“We put it on top of tower, and it will vane into wind, stay free of ice and tell us wind speed,” Stacey said.

Back in 1934, however, they didn’t have this same sophisticated equipment.  They used a heated number 2 anemometer, which is essentially a cylinder with fins on the top that would catch the wind, causing it to rotate.  According to Stacey, workers in the weather observatory in 1934 would measure clicks in the device as it turned and time it with a stop watch.

Luckily, Mount Washington is not getting the same winds today as it was 77 years ago.  At 11:00 am, wind speeds were only 45 mph, though they had a gust of 105 mph at 3:21 am.

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