What It’s Like Working in the World’s Harshest Weather

mt. washington
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Leaning into 70 to 80 mph winds—not just for dogs on the highway. Photo: Ryan Knapp

I’ve been working up here for 11 years. We used to have the world-record wind speed, 231 mph, back in 1934. Then a typhoon in Australia had winds of 253 mph. We still have the highest in North America. Right now, it’s a balmy minus 5 degrees, and the winds are only 40 mph. It’s not a bad day.

We’ve seen snow up here every month of the year. We’ve had winds over 100 mph every month of the year. We can get gnarly weather even in summer. It’s not a tranquil place.

We work eight days on and six days off. When we’re working, we live here. We ride a snowcat up here. That takes an hour and a half to eight hours, depending on visibility. Sometimes we turn around.

I work the night shift, from 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Every hour, we go out to read the instruments. Then we send that data to the National Weather Service, and we make forecasts. Working nights has its challenges: I work alone. You have to watch your step. You don’t want to slip and knock yourself out.

We wear Vasque winter boots rated to minus 40, sometimes with three pairs of wool socks. We wear two or three insulating leggings below a good pair of…

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