Mount Washington officials recorded a 171-mph wind gust Monday

Mount Washington observers were glued to instruments Monday night.
Mount Washington observers were glued to instruments Monday night.Mount Washington Observatory

The weather observatory on Mount Washington rumbled and shook as a 171-mile-per-hour wind gust blew across the summit Monday, breaking the previous record for February.

Taylor Regan, a weather observer and research specialist, was among the employees and guests who gathered at the mountaintop weather station and watched the Hays Chart, a tool used to measure wind speed, to see how strong the winds would blow.

“Everyone gathered around the Hays Chart watching with bated breath as the ink climbed higher up the paper wheel,” Regan said in a statement. “The building rumbled with the force of what seemed like several freight trains, cluing us in to the next possible peak. 158 . . . 164 . . . 171! A new February record gust!”


After the February record was officially broken at 6:35 p.m. Monday, Regan said they all congratulated each other, “as if we, personally, had achieved something great, simply by bearing witness to the raging storm.”

On Monday, strong winds whipped across New England, knocking over trees and taking down power lines. Many roads had to be closed while crews worked to clear the roadway of downed trees and utility poles.

Wind gusts topped 60 miles per hour in several communities Monday. A wind gust of 76 miles per hour was observed at Mount Tom in Central Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

The 171-mile-per-hour wind gust beat the previous February record of 166 miles per hour that was set in 1972, making Monday one of the windiest days on record on the summit of Mount Washington (it was the eighth windiest day for peak wind gusts, and the sixth windiest day if you’re going by the 24-hour average), officials said.

The highest wind speed ever recorded on Mount Washington was 231 miles per hour, which was recorded on April 12, 1934, officials said.


Tom Padham, a weather observer and education specialist, described the experience of witnessing Monday’s wind storm as both “incredible” and “slightly frightening.”

“This storm was on a different level than any I had experienced in my 6 years here,” Padham said in the statement. “The windows vigorously flexed back and forth in their casings, the water in our plumbing was swishing back and forth. It was an experience I will never forget!”

The staff at Mount Washington Observatory clocked the 24-hour average at 110 miles per hour and the highest hourly average at 138 miles per hour.

On April 12, the Mount Washington Observatory will mark the 85th anniversary of the day the 231-mile-per-hour wind speed was recorded with a special open house event.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.