Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: Strongest winds you’ve experienced on Mt Washington?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Western mass
    Posts
    9

    Strongest winds you’ve experienced on Mt Washington?

    I was planning on climbing Mt Washington this weekend but the forecast is making me consider other objectives. However, the windy forecast made me think - what is the strongest wind you’ve experienced on Washington?

    For me, it was around 40mph during February a few years ago. I know that is mild for Washington but consistent winds and cold temps narrowed our margin of safety enough to make my partner and I and turn back after Lions Head.

    just curious about others in here? How strong of winds have you endured? What mph makes you turn back? Or combination or other factors - wind strength, temps, group size?

    (Not interested in bragging rights but rather just curious about risk assessment - what combination of factors have pushed you beyond the comfort zone and made you turn back?)

  2. #2
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, CT
    Posts
    2,587
    For me somewhere around sustained 40 mph winds would generally prompt a go/no go call. The largest wind gust I have been in and officially measured with a Kestrel meter was 56 mph. And as I'm sure you are aware, most people wildly overestimate wind speeds and reference winds that quite honestly were likely no where near what they thought. Most people think a 20 mph wind is more like 40-45 mph. And in trip reports, Facebook posts, etc like this people often refer to MWOBS, take the peak gust for the day and then claim to have been walking around in 90 mph winds all day (which they obviously didn't. It just doesn't sound cool saying you fought steady 28 mph winds all day. )

    I hike alone year round and usually weigh 3 general factors in deciding when to turn back: temperature, visibility and fall potential. When the risk factor climbs in one or more of these to an unacceptable level I will usually turn back, or more accurately if I see risk in any of these when planning the hike I probably won't go in the first place. I very rarely turn back on a hike from a risk assessment point of view because I won't push my luck to start with and waste the effort.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

  3. #3
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    New hampshire
    Posts
    2,613
    High 50's on Washington.

  4. #4
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    5,590


    This is about 50 MPH... on Lincoln (not Washington)

    Tim
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	1-IMG_2882.jpg 
Views:	458 
Size:	63.4 KB 
ID:	6098  
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    617
    On the way to the summit, the winds on Ball Crag were stronger than those current summit winds, so I'd guess between 55-60 mph on Ball Crag is the strongest winds I've hiked in.
    As to your question about risk and turning back, it never entered our mind to turn back. It was sunny, in the mid-40's, and we were in t-shirts and laughing hysterically seeing each other getting knocked over by the wind.
    Plus, I wanted some chili.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    Trip pictures

  6. #6
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    'Springtime' on the Carters (Somerville, MA)
    Posts
    1,948
    I don't think I have ever experienced sustained winds over 25 while hiking or skiing. Generally if it's windy, we stay low.
    | 63.8% W48: 19/48
    Trail Adopter of the Guinea Pond Trail

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Gorham NH
    Posts
    5,891
    Laminar or Turbulent Flow?

    My standard disclaimer on wind speeds.

    The reason I ask is that the winds on Mt Washington are measured some distance from the ground. During hurricane season, various media outlets will show a video of an intrepid correspondent at a wind tunnel withstanding various wind speeds. They generally can withstand a fairly high wind speed. The wind in the wind tunnel is steady laminar flow, no turbulence with the flow always coming from the same direction. This type of wind condition rarely if ever is in place anywhere on the summits. The flow on the summits is generally quite turbulent. If you were to measure the wind speed and direction near ground level at any point near the ground you will find that the speed and direction will vary significantly minute to minute. That makes moving around a lot more difficult even though the average wind speed recorded on the summit may be far lower than someone would expect.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, CT
    Posts
    2,587
    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Laminar or Turbulent Flow?

    My standard disclaimer on wind speeds.

    The reason I ask is that the winds on Mt Washington are measured some distance from the ground. During hurricane season, various media outlets will show a video of an intrepid correspondent at a wind tunnel withstanding various wind speeds. They generally can withstand a fairly high wind speed. The wind in the wind tunnel is steady laminar flow, no turbulence with the flow always coming from the same direction. This type of wind condition rarely if ever is in place anywhere on the summits. The flow on the summits is generally quite turbulent. If you were to measure the wind speed and direction near ground level at any point near the ground you will find that the speed and direction will vary significantly minute to minute. That makes moving around a lot more difficult even though the average wind speed recorded on the summit may be far lower than someone would expect.
    When I climbed Washington last January I checked the wind speeds on MWOBS for the time I was there and it said sustained 35-40 mph winds. I didn't measure anything over 25 mph on the observation deck with my Kestrel for the 20 minutes or so I was on the summit. Most people assume if the MWOBS report references a particular wind speed they experienced the full effect of the peak gust, which I'm sure in almost every case is incorrect. Whenever I read Facebook posts and NETC trip reports about the crazy winds I always assume it is nonsense. In a couple of instances I was actually on the summit referenced with my Kestrel and knew for a fact it was a wild exaggeration. If I am not mistaken, the person asking this question here on VFTT also asked it on Facebook. The contrast in answers is pretty illuminating. Apparently someone there climbed Washington before in 100 mph winds and a - 60 deg F wind chill. Impressive.
    Last edited by DayTrip; 12-21-2018 at 09:30 AM. Reason: Missing word
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Stamford, VT
    Posts
    1,301
    Quote Originally Posted by thebigmo13 View Post
    I was planning on climbing Mt Washington this weekend but the forecast is making me consider other objectives. However, the windy forecast made me think - what is the strongest wind you’ve experienced on Washington?

    For me, it was around 40mph during February a few years ago. I know that is mild for Washington but consistent winds and cold temps narrowed our margin of safety enough to make my partner and I and turn back after Lions Head.

    just curious about others in here? How strong of winds have you endured? What mph makes you turn back? Or combination or other factors - wind strength, temps, group size?

    (Not interested in bragging rights but rather just curious about risk assessment - what combination of factors have pushed you beyond the comfort zone and made you turn back?)
    My experiences are similar to yours. I've turned back a few times at the top of Lion's Head because of high wind. I've also hiked in winds that were strong enough to make walking difficult, which is no fun. Other reasons to turn back are poor visibility and using my last layer of warm clothing on the ascent. I prefer to keep an extra layer for the descent or emergencies. Even more reasons include too much snow, losing the trail, and neglecting to carry crampons or snowshoes.
    Last edited by jfb; 12-21-2018 at 12:28 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    751
    I don't know how fast the wind was, but the first time I skied the Hourglass on Mt. Mansfield's Chin, one of my friends was jumping off the Chin and getting blown back on. The rest of us were leaning backwards into the wind, completely supported by it. I figure that it was blowing at least ten m.p.h. And I've been sailboat racing on Lake Champlain when it was blowing 30+ knots most of the day with gusts into the low 40s.

  11. #11
    Senior Member iAmKrzys's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    418
    Someone complained that there is not enough pictures on VFTT, so here is a vintage one (I think from late '90) where I was enjoying the wind on Lions Head Trail even though it was probably nothing that strong.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Windy.jpg 
Views:	101 
Size:	105.4 KB 
ID:	6113

  12. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Western mass
    Posts
    9
    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    If I am not mistaken, the person asking this question here on VFTT also asked it on Facebook. The contrast in answers is pretty illuminating. Apparently someone there climbed Washington before in 100 mph winds and a - 60 deg F wind chill. Impressive.
    No, I wasn’t the person posting on Facebook. Coincidence that the topic appeared in both places.

    Interesting thoughts on this thread. I agree that most hikers vastly over estimate the wind speeds they experience.

    For me, I was looking at the forecast that started at 35-50 but was supposed to increase to 50-70 moh. I would have been comfortable attempting the hike in the 35-50 mph range (noting that I would plan to go to Lions Head and reevaluate once above tree line) However I was traveling with two less experienced hikers and felt it was too risky. My concern was that we’d be inefficient as a group and a delay could leave us above tree line as the winds increased in the afternoon. As the more experienced hiker, I felt like I’d be managing all the little things of the group- making sure crampons were adjusted to boot size before we left so we didn’t have to do it above tree line, making sure gear is secured so it doesn’t blow away, etc - to keep us on track and off the mountain before weather had the chance to turn.

    Anyway... like I mentioned in the original post, I’m always curious to hear the risk asssement and planning that goes into decision making in the backcountry, and in this particular instance, how wind and forecasts play into that decision making process in the winter. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts so far.

  13. #13
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    'Springtime' on the Carters (Somerville, MA)
    Posts
    1,948
    Always good to know that work = mv^2. The mass of the air is roughly constant from minute to minute, so you are left with velocity. As velocity increases, the work it can do (force exerted on a person) increases as a square of that. So 100mph winds aren't 10 times stronger than 10mph, they are 100 times stronger! People are good at judging force, they just don't realize the formula behind the experience.
    | 63.8% W48: 19/48
    Trail Adopter of the Guinea Pond Trail

  14. #14
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Colchester, CT
    Posts
    2,720
    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Whenever I read Facebook posts and NETC trip reports about the crazy winds I always assume it is nonsense. In a couple of instances I was actually on the summit referenced with my Kestrel and knew for a fact it was a wild exaggeration. If I am not mistaken, the person asking this question here on VFTT also asked it on Facebook. The contrast in answers is pretty illuminating. Apparently someone there climbed Washington before in 100 mph winds and a - 60 deg F wind chill. Impressive.
    I'd have a hard time believing 100 MPH and -60 wind chills, those are the types of conditions that usually occur in fatalities like the Tinkham/Haas described in Not Without Peril and worse than Dahl's Misadventure on Mt. Washington.


    Personally, I try to stay off the highest of the peaks in bad weather. We did Madison around 2000 on a day we thought the windy was 50 MPH, I lost a hat that was too small but one group member had a hand held reader and came up no higher than 43 MPH. In 96 with EMS Climbing School, conditions for Washington was too bad so the guides had us go to Adams. Once we reached the hut we stopped. Upon getting back I checked the hourly conditions and the wind was in the mid-60's when we were in the col. I've been on Franconia Ridge and Eisenhower where the wind was probably in the low 50's where we had to stop and brace against the gusts. (April and Oct)


    Worse New England wind I've had was probably on Abraham in VT less than a month after a chip fracture in my foot and a cold front was coming in after really warm weather was in place. (10/95) It was a challenge fighting the wind and hobbling on a bad foot across the tiny open area. Also bad wind when hiking Guyot in TN during T.S. Dennis. (Hurricane in FL had weakened when it reached TN) We were on vacation and it was hike then or go to Dollywood with a 5 and 3 year old and my 70+ in-laws and hike the better day. Visibility was non-existent but the Azaleas were in bloom on Cliff Tops which was a neat thing to see for a New England hiker.

    Bad weather days are best spent either below treeline or on peaks with just a small open summit where you get beaten up and then shelter is very close by. Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Another Star lake March EMS pciture.jpg 
Views:	50 
Size:	108.2 KB 
ID:	6115 (From near Star Lake)

    Conversely, on my first winter Franconia Loop hike, the day was so calm and warm, the Guy I hiked with on President's Day cut his bagel and spread cream cheese with a plastic knife. The strings on his hat were hanging straight down.
    Last edited by Mike P.; 12-23-2018 at 06:32 PM.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Woodstock, CT
    Posts
    2,587
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    I'd have a hard time believing 100 MPH and -60 wind chills, those are the types of conditions that usually occur in fatalities like the Tinkham/Haas described in Not Without Peril and worse than Dahl's Misadventure on Mt. Washington.
    I should have said "impressive". If you get the general tone of my answer you can see I find that claim to be horse shit.
    NH 48 4k: 48/48; NH W48k: 46/48; NY 46: 6/46

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •