When people quote wind speeds - call them on their bullsh*t


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Mckinleyville, Ca
Nov 30, 2012 - 11:54am PT
Spring Ridge/Windy Hill.  Off Skyline Blvd, San Mateo County.  ~50mph
Spring Ridge/Windy Hill. Off Skyline Blvd, San Mateo County. ~50mph
Credit: rrider
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Soon to be Nipple suckling Liberal
Nov 30, 2012 - 11:56am PT
NICE form! ^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Trad climber
Bay Area
Nov 30, 2012 - 11:58am PT
just down the road (12 miles as the hawk flies) from my place and 1000 feet lower

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Nov 30, 2012 - 12:02pm PT
It bears repeating that the density of air changes with altitude. Also (and this is kind of counter-intuitive) moisture Decreases density. So...40mph at sea level feels harder than a 40mph wind at 15,000 feet. Like the difference between getting hit by 20 mph bike vs a 20 mph car.

You can see from the graph below that as you increase height, density goes down, partial pressure of water vapor (vapor pressure) and temperature play a part also.

air density
air density
Credit: ydpl8s

EDIT: Well I didn't do too good of a job getting the formulas over here, so here is a good reference for all of you that want to look deeper into the subject.


EDIT2: This is also directly tied into why water boils at lower temperatures at higher altitudes. Think back to your 8th grade physical science class when they put a beaker of water under a vacuum bell and got it to "boil" at room temperature as they decreased the pressure.

Trad climber
Nov 30, 2012 - 12:11pm PT
Keep Hurricane Sandy in mind. The top winds were 70 mph and the destruction was enormous. I will try to post some photos of what the wind did near my house. Literally hundreds of trees uprooted or snapped off.

Trad climber
Bay Area
Nov 30, 2012 - 12:13pm PT
Nice graph
So what is the mass density of air where I live at 800 meters when saturated with H2O?
Compared to dry air at sea level.

Or considered another way, when I was knocked off my feet on the summit of Rainier on a dry day, the wind speed would have been about 50% higher than required to knock me off my feet at sea level.
Or since I'm familiar with 30 kts of wind when sailing on the SF Bay, I'll be underestimating the wind speed when I'm at altitude?

Of course, without instrumentation, it's all a Wild Arsed Guess.
The user formerly known as stzzo

Sneaking up behind you
Nov 30, 2012 - 12:21pm PT
The flip side is that, since wind speed numbers don't mean much to most people, when someone says "60mph" i have no idea what that translates to and I think "Ok, i guess it was just blowing really hard".

So, I don't care if they're accurate.

Trad climber
Philadelphia, PA
Nov 30, 2012 - 12:34pm PT
I've only climbed at JT once, and it was incredibly windy, I had a fist jam deep in a crack when a gust blew me sideways and I thought my arm was going to break. Twentynine Palms weather station recorded gusts at 70mph that day. call it BS all you like, you'll know when its 70mph.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 30, 2012 - 12:38pm PT
Although Donini claims to be the Windmaster amongst us I've heard from
reliable sources that Guido can break a gale with his bare hands.

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Nov 30, 2012 - 01:10pm PT
toss a ciggy butt out...

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Nov 30, 2012 - 01:15pm PT
I don't know about all that sh#t but it was blowing like 90 here a minute ago.....

( . )( . )

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 30, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
I'm just the land guy. Guido gets the 71% covered by ocean.

Ice climber
canyon country,CA
Nov 30, 2012 - 01:51pm PT
Sunday Rain before 10am, then snow. High near 40. Very windy, with a southwest wind around 55 mph, with gusts as high as 80 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.


Lee Vining

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 30, 2012 - 02:58pm PT
And then there is spending a night in a tent at 10,000' when an official
weather station nearby, but 3000' lower, recorded winds of 105 mph. Two
ice axes, two ice tools, flukes, deadmen (lol), and X ice screws did
the job. Thank you JanSport! The proto tent survived with only two of the
three poles breaking. (but didn't tear the sleeves!)

Cumberland Plateau
Nov 30, 2012 - 09:00pm PT
I got to experience winds in the neighborhood of 50mph recently. The wind speed was not that big of deal. The problem was that about 500ft to the west the wind was blowing to the south at 50mph. 500 ft. to the east the wind was blowing north at 50mph. Directly overhead at about 1500ft was an inverted hersheys kiss shaped cloud reaching for the ground. The most dangerous winds were wrapped in clouds and sounded like they had a freight train in them. Highest gusts in the storms exceeded well over 100mph. We didn't have trees down. We had forests disappear.
One thing I learned that day..........if you are a tornado chaser, you most likely do not want to catch one!

Trad climber
lost, far away from Poland
Nov 30, 2012 - 09:12pm PT
100 posts in 26 hours, that's less than 4 /h
still it blows me away

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 30, 2012 - 10:15pm PT
Seems like a lot, but most of these posts are unnecessarily....

..... long winded.

Nov 30, 2012 - 10:48pm PT
"I guess you'd probably hate this site:
Warning: contains people quoting wind speeds."

GREAT site QINTNL! I was down today working on a roof that blew off in 100 mph gusts a week back. Site says it was 31 mph today, which was within 1 mph of what I guessed it was. Very sweet! Says that it's gonna be getting up to 59 mph in a few days, looks like I need a few blue tarps once the rest of the shingles blow off.
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