Mount Washington Observatory sees record summer rainfall

Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 5:53 AM EDT
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MOUNT WASHINGTON, N.H. (WCAX) - If you find yourself saying this feels like the rainiest summer ever, in some parts of New England, you’d be correct! Summer 2023 is breaking records at the Mount Washington Observatory.

The weather station at the mountain’s summit surpassed a 1998 record when 37.85 inches of rain was recorded on Aug. 9. They’re now at over 43 inches of precipitation, making this summer the wettest on record.

“It has been the wettest summer on record in the Mount Washington Observatory. Our records go back to 1932,” said Alexandra Branton, a meteorologist and weather observer.

Meteorological summer is June, July and August. The term precipitation encompasses rain and snowmelt.

Branton says this summer is also notable because it took a while for the snow to stop and the rain to fall.

“We recorded more snow in June and we have a snowiest June on record with 8.4 inches of snow,” said Branton.

The observers leave a precipitation can for six hours at a time and pour the contents into a funnel to see how much has accumulated.

In June, the observatory saw precipitation 24 out of 30 days. In July, precipitation occurred 22 out of the 31 days.

New England recently shifted to a climate pattern called El Nino, which is associated with wetter weather in the southern United States and is consistent with this summer’s rain.

“We do have our valley weather station and Conway, and they have been breaking precipitation records, as well,” said Branton.

The team at the observatory is using this data in part for a research project studying the weather extremes we’ve been seeing lately, and whether it has to do with the expected climate patterns which also has an impact on weather.

“It also could mean climate change, as well. We are seeing a warming trend. So there’s a lot of research to be done about what these warming temperatures are, where the heat is distributed throughout the globe, how that affects weather on a local sense here,” said Branton.