Caturday felid: weather cats

March 9, 2013 • 5:30 am

At 1908 meters high, Mount Washington, in New Hampshire, isn’t much in height, but it’s nevertheless the tallest mountain in the northeastern U.S., and has some of the worst weather in the world in winter. It’s also the place where the strongest winds in the world were recorded:

During a wild April storm in 1934, a wind gust of 231 miles per hour (372 kilometers per hour) pushed across the summit of Mount Washington. This wind speed still stands as the all-time surface wind speed observed by man record.

On top is the famous Mount Washington Observatory, which is manned year round, even in winter (October to May!) when visitors are absent and it’s lonely. But the human observers have some comfort, for the place is also catted year round, with a resident moggie.

The most recent “weather cat,” listed among the “weather observers” staff at the Mount Washington Observatory, is Marty, a black Maine Coon Cat who was rescued from a shelter.

Marty is most recent in a long line of resident felines on the summit and the only permanent occupant atop Mount Washington. In his early years, Marty lost his home to a fire and was then taken in by the Conway Humane Society. In January of 2008, Marty was the top cat in the first ever Observatory Mascot Primary and was donated to the Observatory by the Humane Society. He was quickly regarded as a good fit for the mountain because of his adventurous attitude and black coat, which makes him harder to lose in the snow. As a curious cat, Marty enjoys exploring his massive new home of the Sherman Adams Building and romping around with the observers. While not on the clock, he enjoys stalking the water cooler, chasing bouncy balls, napping in odd positions, and being brushed by summit staff.


Here he is in action:

The Observatory has a long history of having resident “weather cats.” You can read about 13 of them at the ailurophile website Purr-n-Fur.

A bit more about Marty:

His adventurous nature came to the fore on one September evening in 2008 when one of the staff, Observer and meteorologist Brian Clark, decided to hike down to the Lake of the Clouds hut, a distance of about a mile and a half (2.5 km) to join the last guest night of the summer. As he prepared to leave, Marty was waiting by the door, making it quite clear he wanted to go out. Despite using various ploys to get Marty to turn back, the cat insisted on following him all the way to the hut. Not wanting to leave him to his own devices, Brian put him in an attic to rest, and gave him food and water. Later in the evening he had to decide what to do, as the weather forecast for the next day was poor. Eventually he decided it would be best to go back to the observatory — so he and Marty set off again for the summit. Marty followed him faithfully, although he allowed himself to be carried part of the way, and they arrived back safely. A good long sleep was next on Marty’s agenda!



4 thoughts on “Caturday felid: weather cats

  1. For those weather junkies / pilots who like to keep track of different weather stations… The FAA designation for Mount Washington is KMWN.

  2. Helluva a place for a cat to abide.
    Ben Nevis (highest point in the British Isles) used to have a weather observatory on the summit – it’s ruins providing wind breaks for many mountaineers every not-quite-totally-insane day of the year. While this was manned all year round until IIRC WW1, I don’t recall reports of the “observers” having had a cat. Officially.
    I suspect the wetness of the weather would have made it a poor billet. Though if wildcats can handle the weather down hill, there’s nothing intrinsically impossible about it.
    The weather on Nevis can get pretty … insane … too. 4406ft tall, but that sticks straight up into the march of Atlantic depressions. I’ve turned my back and walked away often enough – and been glad of it.

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