Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Winds

It is hard to convey in a still photo the movement, sound, and feel of a bracing winter wind. A northwest wind has blown all day. As the large, orange full moon set this morning just after 6:00 am, the wind was already whipped into a frenzy.

Heavy rain earlier this week, followed by cold temperatures, has frozen the snow; the wind swept away any remaining dusting. Wind gusts, 20 miles per hour or more, rush through the tall white pines with a roar. Skinny pole-sized red maples clang their tops together. Bird calls are carried swiftly away. Twice today the mixed flock of birds at the feeders flushed in unison, perhaps by a gust of wind. Later a Cooper's hawk caused another quick departure; it missed catching a bird as it flew or was blown too quickly past the harried songbirds.

Tonight we are heading toward the zero degree Fahrenheit range with bitter (not bracing!) wind chills, similar to two weeks ago as chronicled here. Atop Mt. Washington at the moment it is - 21 F and 60 mph winds (-64 F with wind chill), where they proudly proclaim the spot as "home to the world's worst weather." In 1934, the fastest wind ever recorded on Earth was reported from there -- a gust of 231 mph. But wait, a new report has reportedly toppled that record. This may be as traumatic as the Old Man of the Mountain falling off the mountain. Apparently a new record wind gust was recorded in 1996 on Barrow Island, Alaska during Typhoon Olivia. The new record is 253 mph. Of course a careful review of the instruments used and their calibrations is underway!

Well, now the winds swirling around outside my window seem more like a gentle, warm breeze. Still, I think I'll stay inside where it is calm.

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