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Category Archives: Wind
Wow! It’s hard to believe that there have been so many days of high winds this year. That is, unless you live here. Today is no different from the rest. It’s a repeat of the previous ones. I guess the wind is living fancy free and I am at its mercy.
There have been some beautiful sunsets on these days. I’d love to share one but you’ll have to settle for a slide show from last year as I feel no compunction to risk my hands and fingers to the sub-zero temperatures today.
Oh, baby! The weather usurps a post for 21 days at sea. The wind has been a whippin’ by today. It actually started last night when a high pressure system built up out of western New York. Steep pressure gradients formed around the system went into flight mode heading to the Newfoundland Low. Cold arctic air is being funneled through these systems via the jet stream and other factors.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire reported sustained winds upward of 122 mph today. The Valley, Gorham and Berlin reported winds of 15 to 20 mph sustained for a few hours, winding down to 9 mph hour this evening. Click here to see an animated wind map (current view only).
“The Hill” of Randolph New Hampshire is the Mt. Washington of Mt. Washington Valley. Sugar Plum Farm, my home, is at the pinnacle of “The Hill.” The open fields create a great plain’s state feel with the added impact of weather created by mountains. Our sustained winds today reached upward of 38 mph with gusts to 55 mph to my knowledge. The windchill value as low as -40 degrees. That did it for here. It hasn’t snowed and the fields have been wind whipped clean of snow but Sugar Plum Farm is snowed in. Where does this snow come from? It’s being blown off the mountains where it blasts through open areas piling up against trees and downwind of drifts. We called in a giant loader to open up the driveway. We will also require a plow truck to open up the driveway again in the morning.
Loader at Work
I’ve returned from my wind wanderings and found that there a myriad of stories that I could share. I’m also sure that nearly all of my readers have their own stories as well. Some that are funny and others that a scary. For me tornadoes fall into the scary category. However, I’m also attracted to being near them and have been visited by a few. I grew up in what is called, “Tornado Alley” in the state of Michigan. The area has spawned many a tornado or other severe weather to support this claim. In fact, one of the most devastating tornadoes in U.S. history (listing of top 10) is the 1953 F-5 Beecher-Flint Michigan tornado that cut a 27 mile long swath. It came within 8 miles of the home I grew up in. My grandmother saved the newspapers that covered the tragedy. I read and re-read them over and over again. The stories fascinated me as well as adding growth to my quest for understanding people. A tornado leaves in its wake a war-like environment: pain, suffering, unrecognizable loved ones both dead and alive, heroism and its opposite. It takes years to get over such an event. And for some, there is no getting “over” it. Click for info and photos
The sea spawns tornadoes and worse too. These events have to do with waterspouts and hurricanes. Waterspouts are divided into two categories, fair weather and tornadic. Fair weather ones form beneath developing cumulus clouds from the surface of the sea and build upward, where it reaches maturity and peters out. Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes on water, often developing on land before moving over the water. These are treated as dangerous and are associated with severe storms, hail, high winds, large seas, and lightning. See for source material and more information.
Hurricanes form over the equator which is the reason that they are fist labeled as a tropical storm. These form when warm moist air rises at a rate that leaves a heightened low pressure area at the surface of the ocean. High pressure above sends air down, which forms more warm moist air that rises . This scenario repeats itself over and over. Eventually, the cloud formation spins and develops an eye. The eye works as a funnel for the high pressure air flowing downward. The factors that move a hurricane are global winds, heightened high and low pressure systems, beta drift (due to the Coriolis Force), the jet stream, gulf stream, wind shear, and a few more items. Click here for source and more information.
Now, that I’m loaded with all of this information, I grab the VHF and have a listen. The forecast creates a need to adjust my schedule. It says that by early tomorrow afternoon rain and possible thunderstorms will move in. My plan is to paddle all the way to Crow Island (Harpswell), but I wouldn’t make it by noon. Bangs Island is much closer and on my list of islands to visit. I’ll head there but Abbie B and me will have to leave early for a comfortable voyage and to arrive before noon. Fine with me.
I am now ready for the great outdoors and unzip the tent door and do my little spin maneuver to exit. I have a knee injury that has healed quite well except for possible meniscus damage, making the knee impossible to close or accept downward pressure. It’s taken awhile to develop a technique for entering and exiting the tent. I have it down now. I don’t even have to think about it. Roll onto side, make fist with each hand and put weight on them, bend healthy knee and sort of fold the other a bit, spin while moving body out the door and come to stand via pushing against hands and the knee of the good leg. Stand and straighten injured leg. I should have been a gymnast!
The wind has steadied and the tide is is three hours past it’s six hours high. I walk the shore as best as possible exploring rocks and fauna, gazing at the intersection of the ocean and island at as many points as possible. Boy, I’m really glad that I didn’t try to circumnavigate this island under the conditions of the day I landed and certainly not today either.
I find a duck and sit next to him. He allows me to pet and speak to him. However, I can’t understand anything he says and he’s heard a lot. He’s made of dry wood and wood records sound. I sit and stare at the wooden figure. I imagine myself listening to his stories and enjoying a yarn or two. I bet it would be an all-nighter.
I finally let go of the sea and head to the tent. There, I change into something warmer. The VHF radio is to my right but I stop myself from reaching for it. Why do I have to know what the reported conditions are a this moment? Let it go. I lie down inside the tent and close my eyes. Thoughts of what I’ve been witnessing as to the rising tide infiltrate my mind. I see sailing vessels of all shapes and sizes hightailing it to the nearest haven of safety. They aren’t running from the tide. It’s the wind, which is offshore as usual during this time of day. My, my, it is in a hurry expanding its strength, becoming highly focused and more intense with each passing moment. What is fueling it? I reach for the radio once more and stop myself. . . Let it go.
It is easier to close my eyes this time and even more so to stop thinking, wanting to know what’s going on in detail. There ya go. Breathe. Be gentle. A few moments pass or maybe more than that. I don’t know nor do I care. It’s just how it feels to me and that’s important. I hear the waves tumble and see white foam exploding against the dark blue and greenish liquid upon which they ride.
I want to go out and play, like I’ve done so many times. Oh, how I love the water. I love everything about it. I like being in it, immersed in its reality. I have a healthy respect for all bodies of water but I am not afraid. My favorite game is to wait for the action and the bigger the better and then put on a life jacket and swim away from shore. It’s hard work reaching a special place out in such mayhem. One so far out that everything on land looks very, very, small (As a youngster, the “far” for me frightened many an adult.). I always smile when the time comes to fold my arms across my chest and lean back, allowing the force of nature to carry me back to shore.
Right now, I’m on an island surrounded by an excited sea. I paddled here inside a craft that sits so low in the water that my lower half is beneath its surface. The rest of me barely reaches above the height of buoys that mark lobster traps. I sense how small I am and how big the world is through a lens far different of that of a hiker humbled by the wind on a mountain or cycling against some pretty nifty headwind for miles and miles on very flat land, or in a canoe not far from where the wind dropped to the ground in the form of a tornado.
More tomorrow for now I must rest among memories about the wind rather than water. I’ll share where I wander upon my return.
I’m finally at rest after two and a half days of listening to wind. The average mph over time was 33 mph. However, hours of 40 mph with gusts around 50 to 55 and few blasts beyond 60 mph raged across the fields at my home while the neighbors enjoy the protection of trees or live down the hill.
I checked the internet for a Randolph weather report and laughed as usual, as the conditions are from Gorham or Berlin. Wind 0 mph and the highest during the roar up here was 12 mph. I’m sure those snug inside the Mt. Washington Observatory laugh at me. I checked up on them and saw 93 mph sustained winds. There’s always the somewhere else that resets my perspective.
We did have a slight reprieve for a few hours on Sunday night. The clouds fled the sky releasing the moon from their dark firm grasp. I stepped out the door to have a look and saw its bright light, a perfect white to my imperfect eyes. I walked back inside to look out a window. The Elm Tree was back lit by the light of the moon, leaving finger like shadows upon the snow. It was a remarkable sight because nothing moved. The tree upon the snow was so still. This is the picture that fills my head and will do so again and again, every time I find solace after the violence of nature comes to end.
Here are some photos of spindrift that I nearly froze my hands off taking. For those who know where I live, I saw spindrift flying off Mt. Crescent for the first time ever. Click on Photo for full screen and description.
I showed this video clip on facebook from a windy day earlier this year. Try listening to the noise level several days in a row. (Including the relentless pounding my house took, shudders, creaks and snaps was it cry against the onslaught.)
Finally, some quiet. The photo below is a symbol of the relief and solace I felt when I saw the Elm Tree branches perfectly still.
I awaken having not rested but that’s okay. The crazy night is part of my vacation with the key word being vacation. Things that rob me of sleep at home add to the pile of stress as the next day progresses with its own challenges and concerns. The tension pile away from everyday life is much different as there is little to build on and the things that do find their way to it, have a short life span. This is nice in that the disruptions that do occur are easy to let go of. One of the many benefits a vacation provides.
The wind is still blowing but it’s only 8 knots which is a bit over 9 mph. Camp is efficiently taken down. Everything is stuffed into their sacks except the tent as I have yet to change. Last night was warm so my I wore a short sleeve shirt and shorts, which should not be worn on the cold Atlantic. The water temperature (temp) is fifty eight degrees. This temp may sound chilly, but it’s not. It is downright cold and dangerous! [Water robs the body of heat thirty times faster than air and treading water will reduce survival by fifty percent. I don’t remember what site I found these facts from but I highly recommend watching this video and Check out the site for tons of cold water info and instruction ] I change into paddle clothing from inside the tent, take it down, roll and stuff it in a sack too. The tide is two hours from top so Abbie B is not far from the water. I decide to load and drag her to the sea from where she is.
My biggest challenge is keeping the sand out of Abbie B’s holds. Very little gets in but Abbie B’s hatches are a different story. The sand is dry but is behaving as though it is wet by sticking to and within the lip to the fore and aft holds and inside the threads to the day hold. I swipe it with my fingers with little results. Ding! ding! ding! Use the sponge. It’ll squish to form and do the job and it does. But I fail at getting the majority of sand out of the clips to the straps that run over top of the holds. I rec-clip the sponge to the deck line and try blowing the sand out of the clips and then apply significant force. A gritty snap, snap secures each one but the salt and sand stiffened straps are difficult to tighten. Getting ready to go is taking forever. I definitely have to come up with a better system! But, she is ready to go and I drag her to the edge of the water.
Although, it seems late because of how long it took to get ready to go. The time is six am. The water outside of my protective cove looks rough. I know that it is even more so than it looks. I studied a lot throughout my preparations for this trip and The book, Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble, by Matt Broze and George Gonseth shares several stories of disaster due to the misjudgment of water conditions. I decide to add my 7 mm dive hood to my paddle wear. I am decked out in long underwear top and bottom, a long sleeve chafe shirt with 2 mm neoprene, 5 mm farmer john suit, 7 mm boots, 3 mm gloves, a dry top and a Snapdragon spray skirt. I bought a full dry suit that was on sale but need to lose a few more inches to fit more comfortably inside it.
I launch Abbie B between my legs as before, quickly sit on the back of her cockpit combing, slide in and secure spray skirt. I have a lightweight graphite feather bladed paddle and put it to use by pulling Abbie B and me over the surf. We head out through the safest exit from the protection of the island to cover the mile between Richmond Island and Crescent Beach. Oh, boy, the tide is bringing in large swells with some that break from the east and the wind is still out of the south pushing piles of water behind me. I’m glad that I know the area well as there are lots of rocks and some ledges dotted throughout the area.
I work at threading my way away from them but still make a landing either at Crescent or in Kettle Cove which is next to it. This is no easy task for avoiding capsizing in which practicing rolls specifically with Abbie B was my reason for going to Richmond. There’s weather coming and I need to get back to the mainland!
I’m very busy keeping a vigilant eye in two directions as the incoming tide is from the east bringing breaking waves with it. A mere five feet are between them while the south wind pushes piles of water from behind. Sweep, pry, a few small sculling and hard forward strokes are my best weapons. I’m finding the most difficult part of this crossing to be keeping myself off seal rocks. The sea is becoming “confused” out here in the middle and it’s all I can do just to keep myself from being hit broadside, especially from the large incoming swells. Abbie B is responding well but we are slowly being pushed toward seal rocks and are encountering the outskirts of rebounding waves.
I turn into the tide often, stroking hard to edge us up over and turn a bit this and that way according to the breaks and the sneaky piles from behind. I guess I’m getting some real practice with Abbie B, except for rolls and I hope not to have to do so. We’d make it fine. I just don’t have the confidence I’d like because of only having Abbie B a week and a half before vacation. We didn’t have much time together and only one day of practicing getting back in after a wet exit.
Two hours fly by feeling more like thirty minutes and we are almost there. I want to get into Kettle Cove where there would be no surf to land in but the rocks which form the cove are preventing me from doing so. I certainly am not going out again to try and make it. I see a quiet space in a small area right where Crescent and the west side of Kettle Cove meet and head for it.
I welcome the landing but have a little bit of a time getting out. I worked so hard in one position that my legs , especially with a problematic knee, are refusing fluid movement. My skirt is off and I move my legs a bit inside the cockpit while doing a partial “chair” lift a couple of times. I feel secure now and push myself into a sitting position on the back of the cockpit, splay my legs stand up and guide Abbie B back between them. I walk her through the light surf over to the boat ramp area and drag her fully loaded part way there.
Once again, I receive some strange looks as I walk with all my paddling gear on except for my gloves and dive hood. The van is waiting for me in the lot by Kettle Cove from where I drive her down, load it and secure Abbie B on the top.
The wind’s a blowin’ and the tent is on the ground. I shove my ultra-light tarp under the tent and finish with an extension jutting out in front of the door. Unzip said door, plop inside (except for legs), wipe, dump, and shake sand onto the tarp. Keep that infernal stuff out of my stuff!
Captive gear is sprung from their sacks and in minutes everything is as it should be. But it wasn’t. Will the tent hold or be ripped to shreds? No, but seriously damage is possible. My best solution is to turn the tent parallel to the tempest, allowing it to pass into one door and out the other. The saying, “No rest for the weary” is magnanimously applicable right now. I haul myself outside to do chores, AGAIN!
I crawl back inside as before and try to rest. This body wants sleep, sleep, sleep. Oh, no. This is not working either! Zip! Zip! Zip! yet again. I close the screens and open the doors, peeling them back as far as possible and tie them to the tent’s poles. And once more, this body plops down while faithfully maintaining the keep out the sand ritual.
My mind becomes quiet. But not for long, as a sarcastic chuckling surges up from within. This is like jumping into a ditch while a tornado passes over, except the extreme airflow relentlessly slams into me. I now know what it feels like to be a mountain in the midst of a storm. The only escape is to bury myself below the surface but I don’t like the sand. (I learn so much on these outings!) An explosion of laughter bursts on the scene and keeps on until sleep overtakes it.
The infernal beast wakes me on three occasions throughout its trek from southwest to south southwest and finally only from the South. At least it’s warm and not a bone chilling cold. I grudgingly get up each time to drag the loaded tent so it remains parallel to the wind. Thankfully, I easily fall back to sleep after each rousting.
The profile of my tent has little surface. So, I figured that presenting it this way into the wind would work. Seeing the sides being pressed together was something else. As they say, “There’s a first time for everything.”