This is part of our Road Trip 2018 summer series “Taking It to Extremes,” which looks at what happens when people mix everyday tech with insane situations. Tom Padham didn’t see the softball-size ice chunk before it hit him at 100 miles an hour. Bad enough that it left his back battered and sore. Adding insult to injury, it made him drop the 3-foot-tall bucket used to gather precipitation — which took off in the wind, fog and blowing snow like a hard-sided wind sock. He had to chase that bucket the length of a football field, around outcroppings of rock and hunkered-down structures on the summit of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. It’s a risk you take when you’re weather observer at an outpost with some of the worst weather on the planet, where winter conditions can strike almost any time of the year. The ice chunk incident happened in April. A puffy parka offered some padding, but not enough. “I had a bruise for about a week or so, a good black-and-blue on my back,” Padham says. He’s been bowled over, too, in spite of his solid, compact build. “We see 100-mph winds basically once a week during the winter season,” says Padham, a studious, soft-spoken 30-year-old originally from northern New Jersey who’s been a weather observer on the summit for five years. “Usually a 100-mph gust is enough to knock me over, and I’ve seen up to 140.” Mount Washington packs an awful lot of punch for its size. Chalk… [Read full story]
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