Mount Washington loses wind speed record
For nearly sixty-two years, Mount Washington, New Hampshire held the world record for the fastest wind gust ever recorded on the surface of the Earth. In a report released Friday by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), that record was toppled in 1996 at Barrow Island, Australia during Typhoon Olivia. According to the report, the new record stands at 253 mph.
News of the new world record was released by a WMO Evaluation Panel of experts in charge of global weather and climate extremes within the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl). The panel was led by Dr. Randy Cerveny of Arizona State University and CCl Rapporteur of Climate Extremes.
“It was bound to happen, but it’s definitely quite a shock to hear that news,” says Scot Henley, Executive Director of the Mount Washington Observatory. “While we are disappointed that it appears that Mount Washington may have been bumped from the top, at our core we are all weather fans and we are very impressed with the magnitude of that typhoon and the work of the committee that studied it.”
Mount Washington’s famous wind gust of 231 mph, recorded on April 12, 1934 at the Mount Washington Observatory, stands as the record for the fastest surface wind measured in the Northern and Western Hemispheres.
“It’s natural to treat news like this with some level of skepticism,” said Henley. “Dr. Cerveny was kind enough to share the panel’s findings in advance of next month’s WMO meeting in Turkey. We’re going to spend some time reviewing the materials to learn more about the instrumentation, calibration, the methods used to calculate the wind speed and everything else that went into their investigation.”
“The new record does not diminish the fact that Mount Washington is one of the fiercest places on the planet,” says Ken Rancourt, Mount Washington Observatory’s Director of Summit Operations. “It remains consistently one of the windiest places on Earth and a location that begs further study of wind, weather and climate.”
“Work continues atop Mount Washington,” says Henley. “Our crew of meteorologists and educators at the Observatory stands ready to measure and study the next big wind, whenever it may come.”
Mount Washington Observatory, which operates within the 59-acre Mt. Washington State Park, is a private, non-profit, membership-supported organization. Since 1932, the Observatory has been monitoring the elements in one of the most extreme locations on Earth, using this unique site for scientific research and educational outreach.