Monday, February 4, 2013

Summit weather - Monday

The graph page below reflects summit weather measurements to 04:00 local time today (East Africa); accompanying text update is in this post, rather than previous.

The Wings of Kilimanjaro group reached Crater Camp today, where they are spending the night. Their location can be seen on the FlyTrace map showing positions for many of the pilots. Note that the background image visible when "satellite" is clicked (upper right-hand corner) was acquired on 31 January 2003, so is almost exactly 10 years old. The glaciers are considerably reduced in area and volume since then, as discussed elsewhere on this blog and on this website.

Summit weather today probably provided a good indication of what conditions will be like tomorrow for the launch. Winds at the weather station have been moderately strong, yet appear to be steadily from the East. According to the NOAA NCEP GFS forecast for summit level (500 hPa), winds tomorrow will remain from the same direction, and perhaps decrease somewhat in speed. Based on our climatology and the GFS forecast, wind speed will likely decrease through the morning at summit level.

Humidity has been low since about dawn on 1 February, and continues to be low today (i.e., below 15 percent). Combined with moderate wind speeds, considerable snow sublimation appears to have taken place recently (see graph D below), and snow cover has likely decreased steadily over the past few days.

Measurements shown below suggest that tomorrow, 5 February, may be favorable weather for flying off the summit! The collective experience of the summit and landing-zone groups will have to assess all factors - some of which are not apparent looking at the situation remotely - before making a final decision. But their wealth of experience will serve them well. Best wishes to all for an amazing flight down!

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