5 Funky Facts About North Conway Weather
Updated: Oct 14, 2022
As a local, my opinion is that everything about North Conway weather is unusual!
Folks that travel long and far to vacation in North Conway at a North Conway cabin rental, wonder why we tough out the winters instead of migrating to a warmer climate. We love it here and think the weather in North Conway is fabulous during all four seasons!
Stay tuned and read on for 5 funky facts (plus a few opinions) about North Conway, NH weather.
Let's start with this unusual weather in North Conway fact, Mount Washington has the worst weather on earth! If you're vacationing with us at Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch, it's only about a 17 minute drive!
In 1934, a wind gust of 231 miles per hour was recorded by a weather observer stationed at the peak of Mount Washington. To put that into perspective, an F5 tornado is about that wind speed!
The average snowfall at the top of Mt Washington is 281 inches!
You think it's cold where you live? Up here at the summit the lowest recorded temperature is -47F and the record high was 72F. The temperature falls below zero more than 65 days per year and the first snowfall is usually in late September!
The average wind velocity at the summit is 37 mph. In January 2004 a minus 45F air temperature combined with winds over 100 mph made it feel like MINUS 107F!
Hordes of out of town visitors hike, climb, drive or take the train to the top of Mount Washington. Most of them are totally unprepared for what awaits them at the top of "the mountain".
Conditions at the peak can drop below freezing in the blink of an eye even on a warm summer's day! There's signage on the mountain and lots of information in the Weather Observatory Museum that attests to the fact that since 1859, 135 people have died on the mountain. Don't take that fact lightly, prepare accordingly!
There's a sign at the top of Mount Washington that proclaims, "Home of the World's Worst Weather" but that's not all that's up there. The peak also is home to a world renowned weather station, museum, cafeteria, well preserved lodge where early visitors stayed and a viewing area.
Before you set out to reach the peak check out this site for weather conditions at the top. You might want to plan your assent for a cloud and fog free day, and there are only an average of 110 clear days per year at the summit.
I've lived in North Conway, NH for more years than I can remember. I have traveled extensively and lived many other places for short periods of time in my adult life. Even thought I've been there - done that, I've always come back home to North Conway, NH!
The weather in North Conway, NH definitely allows you to experience all four distinct seasons. Sometimes those four seasons can be in one day! Mark Twain had an opinion about our weather - 'If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.'
In general, spring months are chilly and can be rainy, summers are mild and the air is usually dry, autumn days are clear and crisp and winters are cold, snowy, and dry.
When I did some research I wasn't surprised to find out that the facts about weather in the United Stated back up my feeling about the weather in North Conway! According to an article entitled Interesting United States Facts and Extremes, North Conway, New Hampshire does NOT make the top 10 on any of the following:
Top 10 most or least weather variety
Top 10 tornado states
Top 10 hail, thunderstorm or tropical storm prone cities
Top 10 tornado or earthquake prone cities
Top 10 counties with the highest # of tornados per severe thunderstorm watches per year
Top 10 lightning prone states
Top 10 all-time hottest or coldest temperatures
Top 10 hottest or coldest cities
Top 10 hottest states
Top 10 driest or wettest cities
Top 10 driest or wettest states
Top 10 snowiest or windiest cities
Top 10 sunniest or cloudiest cities
Top 10 most humid or least humid cities
Top 10 rainiest or least rainiest cities
Top 10 most comfortable cities
Top 10 dirtiest air or worst allergy cities
Largest annual temperature variation
The weather in North Conway DID hit the Top 10 in Safest Lightning States and came in 9th for the Coldest States (which is great for all our winter outdoor sports!).
There are a lot of articles about how mountains affect precipitation.
I'm going to add that they also affect the weather in North Conway with amounts of snowfall in different locations.
I used to work about 3 miles from home and it could be bright sunshine at work and I could see that it was snowing or raining like mad at home.
We are so mountainous that New Hampshire is nicknamed 'Switzerland of America'.
Apparently, someone else thought the same thing and asked the question in an online forum.
The answer is as follows: 'While mountains don't literally "make their own weather," they do sometimes provide additional catalysts to create localized disturbances which you might otherwise characterize as "weather" (thunderstorms, clouds, rain, etc)."
In typical "mountainous terrain you have (typically) a warmer, heavier, moister (probably not a word...) weather system hanging out down around the base of the mountain. Near by (typically just a few miles away), you have a looming mass of much lighter, cooler, dryer atmosphere sitting right next door. So, essentially, it takes only a small shift in wind to make these two systems suddenly (and unexpectedly) collide.
It's their close proximity and the unpredictability that moves them small distances that produces the unpredictability of "weather" you describe."
New Hampshire ranks 8th out of 10 of the safest lightning states in the union!
When a Safe Building or Vehicle is Nearby
(Cited from National Weather Service)
There is little you can do to substantially reduce your risk if you are outside in a thunderstorm.
The only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle.
When a Safe Location is not Nearby
If you absolutely cannot get to safety, you can slightly lessen the threat of being struck with the following tips. But don't kid yourself--you are NOT safe outside. Know the weather patterns of the area you plan to visit. For example, in mountainous areas, thunderstorms typically develop in the early afternoon, so plan to hike early in the day and be down the mountain by noon.
Listen to the weather forecast for the outdoor area you plan to visit. The forecast may be very different from the one near your home. If there is a high chance of thunderstorms, stay inside.
Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top
Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest stay near a lower stand of trees
If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current traveling between group members
If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lightning
Stay away from water, wet items such as ropes and metal objects such as fences and poles. Water and metal do not attract lightning but they are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances
Facts about Lightning Strikes (Cited from About.com)
Lightning strikes are common.
According to the National Weather Service, there are an average of 25 million lightning strikes detected each year in the United States.
Of course, few of them actually hit people.
Some facts about lightning include that:
Thunderstorms, which produce lightning, are most common in the early afternoon
The peak season for lightning strikes is during the summer, with most deaths from lightning strikes occurring in June, July and August
Lightning can strike even when a thunderstorm is five to ten miles away
About 400 people are hit by lightning each year
About 3 to 10 children and teens die from lightning strikes each year
Historically, lightning has killed about 55 people each year (30 year average). There have been fewer deaths in recent years though. Since 2001, the average number of deaths each year has decreased to 39.
A 5th Season?
Shhhh.... don't tell anyone!
We like to think we have 5 seasons in North Conway. Late winter and early spring is when the rush begins in the forests - it's Maple Sugaring time!
Just about the time the snow starts melting you'll see folks all over either tapping the trees with buckets to capture the liquid gold or setting up an elaborate system of tubes and hoses to collect it at a central spot in a 55 gallon drum.
Grab a jacket and your muck boots and get out to explore our sleepy forests to take part in this yearly ritual.
There are many farms and backyard maple sugar and syrup producers in the state. They are locally owned and operated and love to talk about their passion! Spend an afternoon at a Sugar Shack and breathe in the sweetness of the air!
The 100 Acre Wood in Intervale (about 2 miles north of town) is a wonderful place to bring the kids to tap your own tree! All the proceeds from this wonderful foundation go directly into literacy programs!
If you're not sure how to pack for a trip to North Conway, or whether you should book Russ-Tee Bucket Ranch, or need any other help planning your vacation fun please give us a call!