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


Marshall_Will said...

The upside I suppose is not chocking in stagnant air that at one point or another ( you'd just as soon get RID of! ) but just can't seem to shake?

So like Carl the grounds keeper in Caddy Shack, you got THAT goin' for ya'? Gale force winds can be exhilarating in Polar Bear Club doses. Jump in.., jump OUT. Months on end... fuggedaboutit.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Headline on front page of local section of today's Bulletin: "WIND MAKES A MESS OF CENTRAL OREGON."


H. Bruce Miller said...

Marshall: Yeah, but do we really need 50-mph winds to clear the air? I think 20 mph or even 10 mph would serve just as well.

Our idiot winds also blow a hell of a lot of dust and (in season) pollen and smoke around -- not good for folks with allergies or breathing problems.

Marshall_Will said...


In the future I'll keep that unabashed optimism well in check! It's just that I've been digging on this S. Texas weather for several weeks and am realizing there just may be life after Oregon?

The last thing I'd want is to get ahead of myself and open up to another tactical error. The rage, housing boom etc..? But there ARE very affordable homes, lots and condos here along the TX Gulf Coast and as far as I know, may well be some of the last affordable beachfront RE left in the country.

A home on STILTS.., not so much my thing? But again, if you want to spend $500k, certainly you'll be permitted. The upside is there's options at every price point and I like that.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Marshall: While you're in that area you might want to take a look at the Florida panhandle. "The Redneck Riviera," they call it in some circles. Not that I'm saying you're a redneck, you understand.

Marshall_Will said...


As long as the only thing OR's can call me is long distance... then fine! I was stationed there in a different life ( 1988-89 ) in Biloxi, MS.

'I' loved it but my wife thought the humidity was intolerable. And she was born & raised in the Philippines. So that's saying something!

Again, it wouldn't be our design to find ourselves there June-August. We'll be expecting regular updates from Sun City and this is where the real payoff comes. Real time feedback!

H. Bruce Miller said...

"We'll be expecting regular updates from Sun City"

You'll get 'em, if I'm not too busy riding my bike, playing tennis or lolling around the pool.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Or watching spring training baseball. Almost forgot that.

Marshall_Will said...

if I'm not too busy riding my bike, playing tennis or lolling around the pool.

Oh that was cold sir. Yeah and you've got Cactus League to boot. Loved going on the White Sox MLB site and Edison Field in Tucson forever cautioning Snow-belters to "bring plenty of sunblock!"

Really? I'm all about the pool and would love nothing more than to become a Top Rated Loller.

H. Bruce Miller said...

After a few pleasant spring-like days, Bend has reverted to form and the idiot wind is blowing again. Gusts of 55 mph predicted today and tonight, 40-mph winds expected tomorrow.

Just one of the many delights of dear old, sucky old Bend.

Marshall_Will said...


Shocker! One thing I've really come to appreciate about this latitude and locale is, when it 'is' sh!tty, it's never sh!tty for 'long'.

Seldom do forecasts for OR include a cr@pper of a Friday that somehow miraculously turns into a to die for weekend.

Thankfully for me, after years of outright DENIAL the wife is owning up to OR's challenged 'weather'. Typically as OR's we don't get real about the weather situation until it affects us personally. Besides, only old people complain about the weather, right?

And it may not even BE a function of age? My guess is if you're a healthy 50 y.o and you JUST moved to OR, it may be 5, 10 or 15+ years before it takes its collective toll on you? Eventually, it WILL. Regardless of how active a lifestyle you lead.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Our dog was so frightened by yesterday's idiot wind that he spent the day cowering under my desk and slept on the floor next to our bed all night. But he's a quiet and well-behaved dog, so that was okay.

Marshall_Will said...

Obviously what poochie needs is a bark-telegraph chiding and calling out all the 'wussy' dogs w/ the good sense to get IN out of the weather!

Your dog isn't from 'Salem' originally is he Bruce? If so, that would explain a lot. Sadly, my time down in TX is coming to an end. Here in a few short days I'll be back in the Land of the Drear and it's sched. to be 80 here later today.

I've gone RUNNING nearly everyday since arriving and generally found a dry patch in between downpours to at least get in a few miles. Those post-holiday/eternal drear lbs. haven't settled in and I have a real shot at looking fit this summer. Could be a first since moving to OR?

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Your dog isn't from 'Salem' originally is he Bruce?"

Nope, born and bred right here in Bend.