Before the week was out, those men would not only get another severe taste of winter, they would be a part of one of the most intense storms in recorded history.April 10 was the tight-knit summit crew's first day without Robert Stone, one of their coworkers who was injured in a skiing accident.
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On this April Tuesday, a weak storm system located over the western Great Lakes was slowly approaching New England. Sun dogs at p - a refraction phenomenon of no special importance." –Log Book entry, Sal Pagliuca Wednesday, April 11, 1934 The large ridge of high pressure continued to build on April 11, causing a major blocking pattern over the ocean.
In addition, another batch of energy was located off the coast of North Carolina. As a result, the energy east of the Carolinas was forced to retrograde to the northwest, combining with the developing system over the Great Lakes.
Even more importantly, a huge ridge of high pressure was in place over eastern Canada and the northern Atlantic. Pagliuca, Stephenson and Mc Kenzie, along with their guests, awoke to a brilliant sunrise early on April 11.
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: 231 miles per hour, recorded April 12, 1934 by Mount Washington Observatory staff.
The Mount Washington record was toppled in 1996 when an unmanned instrument station in Barrow Island, Australia recorded a new record of 253 miles per hour during Typhoon Olivia.
Though the Observatory record fell, it’s a very human story, and it still stands as the highest surface wind speed ever observed by man.The following are excerpts from then-observer Alex Mc Kenzie's book, The Way It Was, which accounts the experience of documenting and living through a 231 mph wind.The sun rose on April 10, 1934, ushering in a typical April day atop Mount Washington.Normally, the rest of New England welcomes the warmth of spring during a typical April, but winter keeps hold on the high peaks of New Hampshire's Presidential Range well into May in most years.The staff at the fledgling Mount Washington Observatory, including Salvatore Pagliuca, Alex Mc Kenzie and Wendell Stephenson managed to make it through their second full winter on the mountain.However, they were anxiously awaiting the coming of spring, with its more moderate temperatures and wind.