Farewell to Mt. Washington's wind record
Friday was a sad day for those of us who knew and loved Mount Washington's World Record Wind, hereto referred to by our nickname for her, "Gale." That's when we learned that Gale was supplanted by a new record wind, which was recorded in Australia in 1996 but only recently uncovered.
Gale's death may cause confusion for some.
Apparently, 14 years ago, Gale was killed defending herself against a fierce Category 4 cyclone named Olivia on Barrow Island, Australia. Only a few scientists knew about this incident, however, and news traveled slowly to her caretakers at the World Meteorological Organization.
Keep reading for the rest of this tribute to Mt. Washington (aka "Gale")...
The announcement of her death from storm-related injuries came suddenly during the weekend, dealing a swift blow to the State of New Hampshire, which had only just begun healing from the loss of the "Old Man of the Mountain" rock formation from gravitational injuries in 2003. (Now New Hampshire has only its Presidential Primary to keep it in the limelight).
Those who say that "records were made to be broken" never knew Gale. She had such a desire to break the mold that she came to epitomize New Hampshire's "Live Free or Die" state motto. Gale's determination was of invincible (and invisible) proportions, which accentuated her gutsy (and gusty) personality.
Friends and relatives often described her as a "breath of fresh air" and "whoa! What the heck was that?" She was a swift sprinter and avid traveler who came to be known and celebrated for her ascent of Mount Washington, New Hampshire, in world-record time: 231 miles per hour on April 12, 1934.
Gale was not born out of a hurricane or tornado (she would have scoffed at any such assistance), but rather from an intense but relatively ordinary springtime New England storm. Her mother was from the Western Great Lakes, and her father was a volatile front from the East Coast. Gale arrived from the southeast and departed in the general direction of Canada.
Although Gale rattled the summit for mere moments, she has gone on to support generations of weather researchers by inspiring people such as ourselves to study the science of weather and climate. For that we are eternally grateful.
Countless New Englanders, as well as weather geeks the world over, had committed Gale's statistics to memory at a young age: 231 mph, recorded at 6,288 feet. It's hard to believe that there are now new numbers to memorize.
Let us take a moment of silence to honor the legacy of Mount Washington's World Record Wind. She will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of millions of weather fans, many of whom will continue to celebrate "Big Wind Day" on April 12 for years to come.
Gale is survived on the mountain by an average wind speed of 35 miles per hour, and frequent gusts of more than 100 mph.
By Ann Posegate and Andrew Freedman, friends of Gale, and former employees of the Mount Washington Observatory.
| January 28, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories: Freedman, News & Notes, Posegate, Satire, Science
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