Tropics Quieting; A Day at Blue Hill

By: MAweatherboy1 , 1:22 AM GMT on July 18, 2012

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The tropics are falling quiet tonight. Fabio is dissipating over the chilly East Pacific waters. In the West Pacific, Tropical Storm Khanun is a mid strength storm that is likely near or past its peak intensity as it begins to move into cooler waters. It will make landfall Friday in the drought stricken country of North Korea, so it will hopefully provide at least a little relief.

Figure 1: Tropical Storm Khanun. Image credit.

The Atlantic is currently quiet, as the area of disturbed weather dubbed Invest 91L earlier today was likely a mistake by the HPC. Development over the next 2 weeks is unlikely as it appears any lows that form off an East Coast trough split early next week will be non-tropical. As of the 8PM TWO from the NHC, a disturbance in the East Pacific has been given a 10% chance of development in the next 48 hours and may be declared an invest tomorrow.

A Day at Blue Hill
As I've mentioned before on the blog, I am working at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in Milton, Massachusetts part time this summer. This is a summary of what we/I do there. I typically arrive around 7:30 in the morning. I am not the chief observer; The chief observer arrives earlier, closer to 7:00 AM. One tricky thing that takes some getting used to is that everything at the Observatory is done in Eastern Standard Time. We don't use daylight savings. So 7:00 is really 6:00, etc. Blue Hill is a climate center, not a forecast center. We take readings and examine data, but we don't actually forecast. We take three major readings per day. The first and most extensive occurs at 8:00 AM EDT. At 7:50, we (the chief observer, myself, and anyone else working that day) go to the top of the Observatory to take cloud cover and visibility readings. Our maximum possible visibility is 90 miles. We can see all the way to New Hampshire when that happens! Today, however, was very hazy so visibility was only about 20-25 miles, which is quite low. We have several landmarks that we use to determine how far we can see. After this, we go to the instrument enclosure just outside the Observatory building and take 4 main readings: A dry bulb (current) temperature, a wet bulb (thermometer with a wick that we wet on it) temperature, a minimum temperature from overnight, and a maximum temperature from the previous day. We then go back inside and enter all the data into our computer system. One of my main jobs is to annotate the daily wind charts; there are three of them. One has wind speed and direction on it, one has only speed on it, and one has miles of air to pass the Observatory on it. The charts I did today were for the previous day (Monday). We had 189 miles of air pass the Observatory, the average wind speed was a very low 8.3mph, the fastest mile of air was 17mph, and the peak gust was a meager 23mph. At 9:00 EDT, we take the temperature again, and replace a chart called a hydrothermagraph that shows temperature and humidity. If necessary we also replace the ombroscope chart. The ombroscope is basically just a blank chart that we color in washable marker. If it rains the marker washes off so we have a record of when it rained! Simple but brilliant. At 11 AM EDT we take another set of readings just like we do at 8 AM. At noon we replace our sun card. The sun card is just a unique paper material with time stamps on it that we place underneath a large glass ball. Sunlight beating on the glass ball reflects onto the paper and burns it, giving us a record of when it was sunny. Finally at 2PM EDT we take the final daily set of readings just like what we do at 8 and 11AM. We have multiple automated system that monitor conditions when an observer is not present. There are other projects that go on when we aren't taking readings. Sometimes there are tour groups that myself or others working there show around the Observatory. Or if there's nothing else to do we generally work on maintenance projects (we're in the process of repainting our main instruments shelter) or weather related projects mostly consisting of putting data into computers. See the pictures below for more details.

Our sunshine recorder.

The main building.

Many of our anemometers.

Our chief observer, Mr. Robert Skilling (nicest guy ever). He's worked there for over 50 years. At the top left are the mercurial barometers, including the oldest one in North America, which has been in use almost as long as the Observatory has recorded. We are in our 127th consecutive year of observing. At the far right and extending off the screen are the wind charts.

Another view from inside the observer's room.

Thank you very much for readings. Feel free to ask me questions/ give feedback. I kept it kind of concise but if you want me to give some more details I'd be happy to. You can also explore our website. Enjoy your night!

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6. GeorgiaStormz
1:29 PM GMT on July 18, 2012

this has been checked out :)
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9760
5. MAweatherboy1
10:36 AM GMT on July 18, 2012
Thanks for stopping by!
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8049
4. wxchaser97
3:31 AM GMT on July 18, 2012
Nice summer job and nice blog.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7972
3. PedleyCA
3:28 AM GMT on July 18, 2012
Cool Summer Job.....
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6260
2. Civicane49
3:25 AM GMT on July 18, 2012
Excellent entry. Especially the part you summmarize on your work at Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory. I hope you enjoy working in this wonderful opportunity. Keep up the good work.
Member Since: July 21, 2011 Posts: 83 Comments: 7167
1. MAweatherboy1
1:30 AM GMT on July 18, 2012
As I said, feel free to ask questions... I may not be on by the time you ask but I'll get back to you at some point.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8049

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About MAweatherboy1

Average 18 year old weather nerd. Freshman at Plymouth State University, majoring in meteorology, with the goal of becoming a professional forecaster.

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