MOUNT WASHINTON, N.H. (AP) – The official title is “highest wind ever recorded on the surface of the Earth by means of an anemometer.” But to most people, it’s simply the “Big Wind.”

It was 75 years ago Sunday that a 231 mph gust blasted across the 6,288-foot summit of Mount Washington and was recorded by three men at the Mount Washington Observatory, which had opened two years earlier and featured a small wooden building chained to the ground.

Today, the observatory is made of concrete and features state-of-the-art equipment. Crews spend one week on the mountain and one week off, and unlike in 1934, they know in advance what will come over the summit.

“We have the luxury of watching computer models,” said meteorologist Brian Clark, who has extensively researched the “Big Wind.”

Clark suspects that a stronger wind might have blown somewhere else over the decades, but no one was there to record it.

“A lot of things came together on one day,” Clark told the New Hampshire Sunday News. “This was a once-in-100-years event.”

For perspective, 231 mph is three times greater than hurricane-strength winds. The highest wind recorded on Mount Washington since 1934 was 182 mph in December 1980.


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