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Environment and Outdoors

Thursday's Cold Sets Record Atop Mount Washington

Courtesy Mount Washington Observatory
The Mount Washington Observatory, seen Dec. 22, 2017.

If you think it's cold outside where you are, consider the top of New Hampshire's Mount Washington, described as the "home of the world's worst weather." 

At the 6,200-foot summit, the mountain's weather observatory recorded a record low temperature for Dec. 28.  

"Early this morning we dropped to about 34 below (zero), which was a new daily record for the date, and then we gusted to 116 mph," says Tom Padham, a weather observer based there. "Wind chill values dropped to as low as 89 below (zero). Basically, this is about as cold as I've seen in my five years up here."

A small staff has been gathering weather data at the site and using it for forecasting for the past 85 years. Padham says the observatory itself is built like a fortress to protect against what's often described as the world's worst weather.

"It is built to withstand 300-mile-an-hour winds," Padham says. "It has three-foot-concrete walls and actually the windows that are facing northwest here, really into the brunt of those winds, are bullet-proof glass.  So, basically chunks of ice could be flying around at 100-miles an hour that would be blowing out most normal windows pretty quickly."

Padham and his colleagues spend a week at a time at the observatory.  They're transported up and down by a snowcat that makes its way up the eight-mile road very carefully, especially in whiteout conditions.

This story was originally published Dec. 28, 2017 at 2:22 p.m. ET.