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Interesting Weather Statistics for US Mountain Summits
Fact Sheet

Interesting Weather Statistics for US Mountain Summits

 
Interesting Weather Statistics for US Mountain Summits

Page Type: Fact Sheet

Location: California/Colorado/Maine/North Carolina/Utah/Vermont, United States, North America

Object Title: Interesting Weather Statistics for US Mountain Summits

 

Page By: Scott

Created/Edited: Feb 13, 2006 / Dec 2, 2012

Object ID: 171585

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Page Score: 86.25%  - 22 Votes 

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Introduction

I thought these statistics could be interesting for climbers. Here are some climate statistics for several mountains in the United States (arranged from coldest to warmest for lack of any better way to do it).

There are only a few mountain tops with weather statistics and most of them are located in the Eastern USA. There have been at one time several peaks in the Western US with weather data, but none of the weather stations below are currently operating, though the data is still available if you dig hard enough for it.

Temperatures

Denali is not surprisingly by far the coldest of all the mountain tops in the United States. In fact, during summer Denali is still colder than any location in the lower 48 is during winter. It is also the coldest place in the world outside Antarctica.

Obviously Mount Rainier is by far the coldest of all these mountain tops in the lower 48. Interestingly though, Mount Rainier is about the same temperature in winter as Pikes Peak or Mount Washington. It is however, much colder in summer.

Pikes Peak is much farther south than Mount Rainier, but I assume that the Pacific air on Mount Rainier keeps the mountain “milder”, temperature wise in winter than it would otherwise be. Mount Rainier is by far a much wetter and stormier mountain (precipitation wise) than Pikes Peak. No precipitation values that I know of are available for Mount Rainier summit area, though at 5550 feet at Paradise Ranger Station, an average of 117 inches of precipitation falls. Mount Washington averages near 99 inches, but the summers are too “warm” for glaciers to form.

White Mountain 2 in the White Mountains in California is almost as cold as Mount Washington. However, it is “warmer” in winter and cooler in the summer than Mount Washington. Since White Mountain 2 is actually over 1500 feet lower than White Mountain itself, it is probable that the summit of White Mountain is colder than Mount Washington.

Mount Mitchell is much warmer than these other peaks, but interestingly the all time record low is almost as cold as the other locations (except Denali). Mount Washington has recorded temperatures down to -47, Pikes Peak down to -39, Mount Mansfield down to -39, Mount Rainier down to -36, and White Mountain 2 down to -35. All these mountains only have a span of 13 degrees between their all time record lows. One old minimum gage thermometer left on the summit of Denali plunged to -95. Since the thermometer sat on the ground, it isn't official, but temperatures have been thought to drop at least to -77. In the summer, it is likely that the summit never reaches freezing.

Records for Mount Mitchell, Mount Washington, and Mount Mansfield span many decades, while the other mountains have record for much less time. The longest period for a Western US mountain belongs to White Mountain 2 where data was collected for 25 years.

Annual Temperatures:

PEAKSTATE ANNUAL
DenaliAK-28.0
Mount RainierWA11.9
Pikes PeakCO18.8
Uinta MountainsUT20.0
Mount WashingtonNH27.2
White Mountain 2CA27.5
Mount MansfieldVT34.3
Mauna KeaHI36.3
Mount MitchellNC44.6
Mauna Loa SlopeHI44.7

Wind Speed

Unfortunately, wind speed data is hard to obtain for most of these mountains. Of all these mountains, Mount Washington is the only one with long term wind data.

Other than wind data for Mount Washington, I could also find it for Pikes Peak and Longs Peak in Colorado. Longs Peak and Mount Washington are about the same in wind speed and both are significantly windier than Pikes Peak. Mount Washington had a record wind gust of 231 mph in April 1934. Longs Peak had a record wind gust of 201 mph in 1981, but the station only lasted a short time. During the period of record, Pikes Peak had an estimated maximum wind gust of 150 mph, but the anemometer blew away 112 mph.

Unfortunately, Long Peak doesn’t have any temperature data compiled; only wind, so wind chills are hard to compare. More than likely, Long Peak is similar in temperatures to Pikes Peak, but a few degrees colder.

It seems no wind data is available for the other summits listed below. It would be interesting to see how windy the high peaks in the Cascades or California are compared with the Rockies or Appalachians.

Peak Average Wind Speed
Mount Washington 35.3
Longs Peak 34.3
Pikes Peak 21.2

Denali, Alaska (20,320 feet)




MonthAve High Ave LowRec HighRec Low
JAN-33-43?-77
JUL-3-1330-23


Source: Statistics are from the book Skywatch West by Richard A Keen, page 247 and are based on weather balloon data. Unfortunately only January and July info is available. The -23F figure for July comes from the Weather Station located at 19,000 feet.

Mount Rainier, Washington (14,411 feet)



MONTHHIGH LOW
JAN7-3
FEB9-2
MAR11-2
APR172
MAY226
JUN2610
JUL3315
AUG3214
SEP2812
OCT207
NOV142
DEC8-2


Source: National Park Service, courtesy of University of Washington.

Period of Record: Unknown; 1970's.

Pikes Peak, Colorado (14,115 feet)

Month Ave High Ave Low Rec High Rec Low Precip Notes
Jan 8 -4 ? ? 8-10 days of snow
Feb 11 -3 ? ? 9-10 days of snow
Mar 14 -1 ? ? 9-11 days of snow
Apr 20 5 ? ? 12-13 days of snow
May 28 14 ? ? 17 days of snow; some rain
Jun 39 25 ? ? 9 days of snow; 9 days of hail
Jul 48 34 64 ? 7 days of snow; 15 days of hail or rain
Aug 48 33 ? ? 28 days of snow, hail, or rain
Sep 39 24 ? ? 10 days of snow; 5 days of hail or rain
Oct 28 14 ? ? 8-9 days of snow
Nov 16 4 ? -36 9-10 days of snow
Dec 11 -3 ? -39 9-12 days of snow


Other info: Pikes Peak averages 29.7 inches of precipitation and 553 inches of snow per year.

Source: Uinted States Army Signal Corps; courtesy of Larry Dunn. Annual "other info" stats above are from the book Skywatch West by Richard A Keen, page 248.

Period of Record: 1873-1888 and sporatically in recent years. Daily highs and lows are currently being taken again on the site below:

Pikes Peak Summit Weather

Uinta Mountains, Utah (13,123 feet)



MONTHHIGH LOW
JAN11-4
FEB13-2
MAR161
APR248
MAY3215
JUN4222
JUL5229
AUG5028
SEP4221
OCT3112
NOV195
DEC140


Source: Interpolation from Mesowest Data, Chepeta Station (CHPU1).

Period of Record: 1998-Present

Mount Washington, New Hampshire (6288 feet)

Month Ave High Ave Low Rec High Rec Low Precip (in) Snowfall (in)
Jan 14 -4 47 -47 8.52 50.4
Feb 15 -2 43 -46 7.33 48.2
Mar 21 6 54 -38 9.42 51
Apr 29 16 60 -20 8.43 40.8
May 42 30 66 -2 8.21 11.3
Jun 50 39 72 8 8.36 1.2
Jul 54 43 71 24 8.02 0
Aug 53 42 72 20 8.08 0.3
Sep 46 35 69 9 8.55 2.2
Oct 36 24 59 -5 7.66 14
Nov 28 14 52 -20 10.49 40.4
Dec 19 2 47 -46 8.84 55.0


Source: National Weather Service database (National Climatic Data Center).

Period of Record: 1870-1892 and 1932-Present

White Mountain 2, California (12,470 feet)

Month Ave High Ave Low Rec High Rec Low Precip (in) Snowfall (in)
Jan 23 7 47 -25 2.00 20.2
Feb 23 7 52 -21 1.70 19.5
Mar 24 7 46 -35 2.17 19.5
Apr 28 10 50 -30 1.88 20.8
May 36 19 59 -15 1.98 21.5
Jun 46 29 66 2 0.82 7.0
Jul 54 36 72 12 1.09 1.3
Aug 53 35 73 13 1.11 1.0
Sep 48 30 61 -5 0.87 3.5
Oct 40 23 69 -20 1.02 10.9
Nov 31 15 50 -28 1.22 13.1
Dec 25 10 48 -30 2.60 20.3


Source: National Weather Service database (National Climatic Data Center).

Period of Record: 1955-1980

Mount Mansfield, Vermont (4393 feet)

Month Ave High Ave Low Rec High Rec Low Precip (in) Snowfall (in)
Jan 17 1 50 -39 5.94 43.1
Feb 19 3 51 -36 4.49 31.7
Mar 27 12 64 -29 5.85 35.3
Apr 39 24 74 -13 6.28 21.5
May 53 37 79 5 6.16 3.8
Jun 62 46 84 20 6.88 0.2
Jul 65 51 82 24 7.47 0.0
Aug 64 50 79 25 8.02 0.0
Sep 56 42 79 16 7.55 0.4
Oct 45 30 71 -5 6.39 7.6
Nov 33 19 63 -15 7.40 32.4
Dec 22 7 60 -40 6.37 43.1

Source: National Weather Service database (National Climatic Data Center).

Period of Record: 1954-Present

Mauna Kea, Hawaii (13,796 feet)

Month Ave High Ave Low Rec High Rec Low Precip (in)
Jan 37 25 55 19 (9?) 1.4
Feb 39 25 56 12 1.4
Mar 41 25 54 18 1.7
Apr 42 27 55 18 1.4
May 48 29 59 12 1.1
Jun 50 30 58 23 0.8
Jul 51 31 61 22 1.1
Aug 52 30 57 17 1.3
Sep 43 32 60 23 0.9
Oct 50 31 59 20 1.2
Nov 40 28 54 20 1.5
Dec 38 26 55 17 1.7

Source: Both the Western Regional Climate Center and the Hawaii Atlas have weather data for Mauna Kea. Unfortunately, the data averages from either source does not match well. The data from the atlas was here used because it is the most complete. Aveage precip values are higher and low temperatures lower than the WRCC averages, which only includes data from a short time span. The all time records were taken from the WRCC, though a figure of an all time record low of 9 in January has been reported by other sources.

Period of Record: 1972-1982; sporatic

Mount Mitchell, North Carolina (6634 feet)

Month Ave High Ave Low Rec High Rec Low Precip (in)
Jan 34 17 61 -34 7.00
Feb 36 19 62 -23 5.41
Mar 43 25 65 -15 7.93
Apr 51 33 73 -1 5.34
May 58 42 78 11 5.93
Jun 65 49 78 27 5.57
Jul 68 53 80 38 6.70
Aug 68 52 81 34 7.39
Sep 63 47 78 24 4.87
Oct 56 38 72 5 5.10
Nov 47 29 66 -21 6.36
Dec 39 21 60 -22 6.90



Source: National Weather Service database (National Climatic Data Center).
Period of Record: 1953-1965; 1985 and 1988-Present

Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii (11,140 feet)


MONTHAVE HIGHAVE LOWREC HIGHREC LOWAVE PRECIP (in)
JAN503367192.48
FEB503364181.51
MAR503365201.75
APR523567241.33
MAY543768271.00
JUN573971280.51
JUL563970261.16
AUG563968281.50
SEP563867291.36
OCT553866271.16
NOV533665251.78
DEC513467222.01


Source: National Weather Service database (National Climatic Data Center).

Period of record: 1955-Present

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