The summit of Mount Washington was, at one point, “the warmest” recorded spot in New Hampshire early Thursday morning, according to meteorologists.
Staff stationed at the Mount Washington Observatory said it hit 16 degrees sometime between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., far surpassing temperatures in many of the surrounding, low-lying areas, where it remained in the negatives.
Tom Padham, a meteorologist and education specialist with the observatory, said the so-called “warm” conditions were due to a strong temperature inversion, or increase in temperature with height.
“It generally forms under calm and clear nights in the valleys,” Padham said. “They are able to cool off much more rapidly over the course of the night.”
He said that while it’s certainly “unusual,” such inversions typically happen once or twice per winter season.
“It’s not completely out of the ordinary,” he said.
By 6 a.m., the temperature dropped to around 14 degrees on the summit, according to a Facebook post shared by Padham. Surrounding areas across the region still remained in the single digits or below zero, however.
“It’s feeling balmy up here to start what should be a pleasant day, with temperatures hovering near 15°F along with light winds,” Padham wrote on Facebook.
He later added, “it won’t get much warmer.”
For comparison’s sake, temperatures “bottomed out at -6 degrees” on Wednesday afternoon at the summit, with wind chill values approaching -45 degrees, observatory workers reported. In the morning it had been 2 degrees.
“So it was still pretty cold,” Padham said.
The National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, also noted the dramatic difference between the temperature on Mount Washington and those in other parts of the region early this morning.
“It’s another cold morning out there!,” weather service officials tweeted. “Mt. Washington is actually one of the warm spots.”
It's another cold morning out there! Mt. Washington is actually one of the warm spots. pic.twitter.com/Vr9st5luas— NWS Gray (@NWSGray) December 13, 2018
The news about how “warm” it was on Mount Washington Thursday morning led to an array of reactions on social media.
But for the most part, people had the same thought: “So weird.”
This isn’t the first time that employees at the weather observation station have enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather.
In February, when it hit 70 degrees in parts of New England, observatory workers put on T-shirts and headed outside. There, at the summit, it had reached 48 degrees.
“It’s the only day in my five years up here that I have been able to [go out in a T-shirt] in February,” Padham told the Globe at the time. “It was nice.”Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.