High Altitude Winds
We joke in Medicine Bow that a breeze is categorized as “anything that doesn’t uproot trees”. Sometimes it feels like it isn’t far from the truth!
We hear whistling, howling, screaming, and groaning as the wind swirls around the house. It catches anything that protrudes and works it and worries it until it comes loose. Shingles need perpetual replacement and repair, and gutters regularly need re-anchored. Tree branches frequently break off and fly into whatever happens to be in the direction the wind is blowing.
And then there are wind storms, where it REALLY blows! We hear the very frame of the house protesting at the task of standing in the face of it. The windows in the livingroom actually flex inward as the wind hits them full on. Rain and hail can come down with such driving force that you are sure they have to penetrate the walls and make a direct attack. If you are driving on the road during a windstorm, you slow down to 50, and hold on tight – very tight, to keep the slamming wind from pushing your car right off the road.
In the winter, the wind takes the snow and turns it into a billowing fog that you cannot see through. You creep along the roads from delineator post to delineator post, hoping you don’t go off in between.
Styling your hair is a waste of time. Step outside to go to the car, and the wind will lift the hair on your head straight up, and then whip it around contrary to whatever direction you had combed it. We joke out here that men don’t go bald… the wind just blows their hair off. For women, every day is a bad hair day – no hairspray in the world is strong enough to glue your hair down in high winds!
Winds are more fierce at high altitudes, and no one will disagree with that. In many higher altitude areas there are no trees to slow it down, so the wind just gathers itself up and has its way.
Most people who move up to a windy area complain that the wind will surely drive them crazy. But it doesn’t. After a month or two, they learn to adjust to it, and life goes on pretty much as it always did.
If you are traveling in high altitude areas, please be prepared with a heavier jacket than you think you need, and a lightweight one, so that no matter how cold it gets, you are prepared. Wind can suck the heat right out of your skin, and even if you feel comfortable at first, a half an hour later you can be freezing because the wind just slowly drains the heat out of you.
Be especially careful if you are traveling with small children. They lose body heat even faster in cold weather, and they may need a hat or gloves much sooner than you do.
In the middle of the winter, if temperatures are below freezing, be especially careful and bundle up well, because wind chill factors can drop the effective temperature far below what you think it is. Even the distance between house and car, or car and store can be brutal if you are not properly dressed.