Mount Washington’s -108 Degree Wind Chill Breaks US Record

New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, home of the world’s worst weather, set a new record last Friday for the coldest wind chill recorded in US history. The wind chill dipped to -108 degrees Fahrenheit, replacing the 2004 record of -102.7 degrees.

According to the Mount Washington Weather Observatory (MWO), actual summit temperatures tied with the 1934 record low of -47 degrees. NASA also reported that the wind chill on Mt. Washington’s summit was colder than the average temperature on Mars that week.

State officials began issuing warnings days before, explaining that an Arctic air mass was expected to bring record-breaking cold temperatures and sustained 100-plus mph winds to the higher summits Thursday through Saturday.

At a press conference, NH Governor Chris Sununu issued a statement warning hikers against traveling to the White Mountains during the storm. MWO staff further cautioned that skin would be particularly vulnerable to frostbite in such extreme temperatures, even if left exposed for a duration of one minute or less.

MWO Weather Observer and Education Specialist Francis Tarasiewicz was one of several MWO staff members who weathered the storm at the summit. Tarasiewicz and two other staff members measured the temperature every 15 minutes through the night on Friday, which required stepping outside onto the observation deck. Mount Washington State Park employees stepped in to help when wind gusts of around 128 mph caused the hinge to an observatory door to break.

Photo: Andrea Davis.

At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the second-tallest peak on the Appalachian Trail and the tallest peak in the White Mountains. Along with the other peaks that make up the White Mountains, it is well-known in the hiking community for its beautiful and challenging terrain.

Winter hiking in this region can be particularly challenging and dangerous due to the region’s erratic weather patterns. Hikers should always consult the Higher Summits Forecast or regional weather forecasts before hitting the trail. Even in the summer, hikers should stay up-to-date on weather conditions by checking the forecast regularly.

It’s important to note that it’s common for Mount Washington to have extreme weather at all times of the year, even in the summer. Make sure to check the forecast before hiking in the area, no matter when you plan on visiting.

Featured image: Mount Washington Observatory.

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