Monday, March 5, 2012
Bend's Idiot Wind
In the mid-1970s, as part of the album Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan released the song "Idiot Wind." I have no evidence that he had Bend in mind when he dreamed up the title, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Bend is not the windiest city in America; in fact, statistics show that on average, it's slightly less windy than the average American city. But averages can be deceptive, as the statistician who drowned in a river with an average depth of two feet found out.
The wind in Bend doesn't blow all the time, but when it does blow, DAMN, does it ever blow!
It blows hard enough to send trash cans tumbling down the street. Hard enough to peel shingles off roofs. Hard enough to knock down tree limbs -- or entire trees. Hard enough to force Mount Bachelor to shut down the ski lifts. (When the chairs are hanging parallel to the ground, folks around here call it a "Bachelor breeze.") Gusts of 50, 60 or even 70 miles per hour are not uncommon -- and that's in the flatlands; it's much worse up in the mountains. A gust of 73 mph recently was recorded at Black Butte Ranch near Sisters, just up the road a piece.
These wind episodes occur every time a storm system roars into Oregon from the Pacific, which, in the winter, happens two or three times a week. I don't fully understand the meteorology of it, but it has to do with an extreme pressure gradient between the air on one side of the mountains and the air on the other side. Or something like that.
Anyway, whatever the scientific explanation, I detest it. Unlike my comrade-in-bloggery Jack Elliott*, I find gusty, blustery weather annoying, nerve-wracking and distinctly unpleasant.
It's an idiot wind.
*Bend's Best-Smelling Man