Monday, November 20, 2017

How windy was it?

Kennedy Blakey photo
C. Davis - It was so windy I gave up trying to take a good picture of how windy it was. Southwestern Alberta communities are used to high winds. They're a fact of life here, and the average citizen doesn't blink at winds that provoke states of emergency elsewhere. Having said that, yesterday's wind event was memorable for its intensity. Castle Mountain Resort's Jason Crawford told the Voice that a peak gust of 182 km/h was recorded at 8:52 am yesterday at ridge top. TransAlta reported 140 km/h at Cowley Ridge, and that may not have been the peak activity. Those are not typos. Environment Canada warned of 120 km/h winds in the Crowsnest Pass and Cardston regions. The Pincher Creek Airport weather station reported 81 km/h gusting to as high as 107 km/h. At the Waterton Park gate it was 79 km/h gusting to 108 km/h. Residents said they believe the wind was more extreme than that in the Twin Butte area. The coulees on Highway 6 and Highway 3 are always treacherous in this kind of weather, but a longtime Twin Butte area resident tells us it was particularly bad at Yarrow Creek.

Some area householders (including yours truly) experienced significant property damage as the winds removed shingles and siding, cracked windows, damaged sheds and outbuildings, played havoc with loose objects, etc.  We heard credible reports of large round hay bales being blown uphill during one of our last big wind events.  Yesterday was windier.'

Excerpted from Environment Canada's Weather Summary as of 5:01 am November 20, 2017 - Peak wind gusts measured in kilometres per hour:

Stavely: 126
Carway: 120
Brocket: 119
Fort Macleod: 117
Waterton: 113
Del Bonita: 111
Pincher Creek: 107
Claresholm: 107
Patricia: 106
Champion: 100
Buffalo: 94
Milk River: 94
Priddis: 93
Beaver Mines: 91
Neir: 94

Driving was treacherous and several blow-overs were reported in the region. Highways 3, 6, and 11 were buffeted for hours. Just standing up was difficult in any unsheltered place. It was a major topic on Facebook, and we thank our readers for adding valuable information used in this article.

Environment Canada currently predicts "A few flurries ending near midnight then mainly cloudy with 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind becoming west 30 km/h gusting to 50 before morning." Balmy weather compared to yesterday.

Pincher Creek Emergency Services Deputy Chief Pat Neumann would like to remind people to follow safe burning practices. This is a time of year when there is a lot of dry fuel, and not always a lot of snow cover. High winds can carry a fire a long distance in a short time. "This is a bad time of year for fire."

Feel free to share your story in the comment section below or on our Pincher Creek Voice Facebook page.  You can even be long-winded.

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