It only takes just more than a breeze to get a flag to fly. If a wind is hard to walk against, it likely is almost gale force, exceeding 30 mph.
Winds racked an otherwise perfect weekend, buffeting trees, capping waves with white froth and churning clouds of dust and pollen that mocked my strong over-the-counter allergy medications. Once again, I fumed, the winds of East Idaho, which according to the weather report were 33 mph and gusting to 46 mph, had thwarted my plans.
Wind is a part of life here in eastern Idaho, but in reality, Idaho isn’t all that windy. In fact, we don’t even make the top ten best states for the development of wind energy. North Dakota gets top honors, and our neighbor, Wyoming, is number seven.
Of the windiest cities in the nation, again, Idaho cities don’t even get an honorable mention. Dodge City, Kansas, is the top of the pile for the United States, but even then ranks a lowly fifth place worldwide. The windiest city in the world is Wellington, New Zealand which has an average daily wind of 18 mph and 120 days with winds of 36 mph. One third of their year is like last weekend. That’s great if you are a windsurfer, I suppose.
National Geographic Atlas recognizes Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, as the windiest place in the world. Winds commonly exceed 150 mph and average 50 mph. It’s too cold for windsurfing too.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire, likely holds the record as the windiest place on the continent with
sustained wind averaging 35 mph. Until 1996, it also held the record for the highest recorded wind ground speed of 231 mph.
It is clear that although I complain, things could be worse.
Some places might be windier than others, but wind is a fact of life on this planet largely because of the daily uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. For instance, water warms more slowly than black rock. As air warms over the rock, it rises faster than air over the water. Cooler air falls, always moving from atmospheric high pressure to low pressure, and this motion is wind.
You might think that a world spinning at 1,040 miles an hour would be windy indeed. But the rotation of the earth doesn’t cause the wind; it only influences its’ direction through what is called the Coriolis effect. In the northern hemisphere the Coriolis effect “bends” the wind in a clockwise direction, resulting in westerly winds or winds from the west.
Wind shapes the earth. Many of our richest soils in eastern Idaho are wind-blown loess, very fine particles that settle out miles from where they are picked up. The sand dunes at St. Anthony were formed from sand blown in from Mud Lake, Market Lake and the Snake River Plain.
As my allergies will attest, wind is responsible for pollination of many species, particularly conifer and grass species. On the back end of pollination, wind is also responsible for the seed dispersal of many plants.
Wind brings the rain, moderates temperatures and circulates ocean currents that keep the huge planetary climate engine running. Wind is so important in our lives that I should quit complaining about its inconveniences. A world without wind would be uninhabitable.
"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson
That is embarrassing but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.
Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.
Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.
"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman
"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.
To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version
Copies are also available at:
Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls
Perfect Light Photo Supply
Museum of Idaho
Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming
Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah
Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho