Here’s what it was like to spend the night on Mount Washington in the wildest weather ever recorded

Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in the weekly weather report, the CNN Weather Brief, which is published every Monday. You can sign up here to receive them weekly and during major storms.


The Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire is known for having one of the wildest climates on the planet, and without a doubt, it takes the cake for the United States.

Standing at just over 6,000 feet, it’s in the perfect spot for extreme winds and brutal cold.

When the record-breaking Arctic explosion ripped across the United States on Friday, the Mount Washington Observatory suffered the most, with three people inside witnessing it all.

“The winds were so strong that I fell at least once that night. I was grateful that I was able to return to the observatory,” said Mount Washington Observatory meteorologist and weather observer Alexis George. “It’s not something you get used to very easily because it’s a very noisy experience. It almost looks like a freight train.

She, along with fellow observer Francis Tarasiewicz and an intern, braved the wind and cold atop Mount Washington inside the observatory, and was responsible for taking measurements and observations at the summit on Friday evening. Work is usually done once an hour but was done much more frequently on Friday evenings due to the extreme conditions.

“So given that we were on the verge of breaking records last night, we had to go out in these conditions every 15 to 20 minutes or so,” George said.

Bundled up from head to toe, George had to venture into some of the most extreme conditions on record, hand-holding a slingshot psychrometer, which has been the observatory’s technique for measuring weather since 1932.

Their perseverance paid off as they recorded a wind chill of minus 108 degrees, possibly the coldest wind chill on record in the United States.

It’s hard to know for sure, because the National Weather Service doesn’t track wind chills as closely as temperatures. However, most meteorologists who track the extreme conditions believe the reading of minus 108 beats the previous record of minus 105 set in Alaska.

The previous wind chill record for Mount Washington was minus 102.7 degrees set in 2004.

It’s the kind of cold that few people have ever seen or ever want to see.

“Any exposed skin, even if it’s just like a millimeter of exposed skin, looks like a bee stinging you or a slight sunburn, so definitely not very nice here,” Tarasiewicz told CNN. “But being here is what we are here for, these extreme conditions.”

Tarasiewicz and George were in the elements for about five minutes every 15 to 20 minutes. It’s dangerous work, requiring courage and concentration as they slowly make their way to the observation deck to get weather readings.

“We’re not tied to a rope or anything, so we always have to be careful,” George explained. “Because you can easily fall and blow on the observation deck if you’re not careful.”

The winds were so strong at one point during the day that they blew the gate to the observatory.

Tarasiewicz explained the chilling moment on CNN on Saturday morning:

“In short, terrifying. It took us about three people to keep the door closed, as these winds were blowing over 100 miles an hour. We finally got a new latch for it and so it’s nice and secure. We also have a piece of plywood to secure it in place, so hopefully that’s a good solution, at least in the short term.”

The Mount Washington Observatory is seen on February 4, 2023.

George has worked at the Observatory for less than a year and realizes that Friday night could be a night that may never be out of date.

“Being able to experience sustained wind gusts above 100 miles per hour is a very exciting thing for me in the long run,” George recalled. “To be able to experience a cold temperature of minus 47 degrees – I will brag about that for many years to come.”

The Mount Washington Observatory is a nonprofit research and educational institution working to advance understanding of Earth’s weather and climate.

Learn more about the observatory here.

Mount Washington wasn’t the only place to break records on Saturday. Boston hit a morning low of minus 10 degrees Saturday morning, breaking its previous daily record of minus 2 degrees. The weather service also tweeted that it was the first double-digit negative temperature recorded since 1957.

Worcester, Massachusetts, reached minus 13 degrees, breaking the previous daily record of minus 4. Providence, Rhode Island, recorded minus 9 degrees breaking the previous daily record of minus 2. Hartford, Connecticut, reached minus 9 degrees, breaking the previous daily high of minus 8.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button