Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Wind

This has been a particularly windy spring. I think I have said that before. It was windy again today.  Living in town, sometimes it is difficult to estimate just how hard the wind is blowing, and if you do not pay attention to what the mph means in terms of its effect on  you, the impact of the wind can be surprising.

The horizon profile and footprint of Lubbock has an interesting influence on the wind. Central Lubbock is surrounded by a Loop.  Inside the Loop, the impact of the wind is largely mitigated. Depending where you are, and the direction from which the wind is blowing, the impact can be tremendous. This is especially noticeable when the dust is barely blowing outside the Loop.  Inside the Loop, the dust may be barely noticeable on the horizon, but not in town.

In the winter, for houses who have pipes on the north side of the house, the pipes are more apt to freeze, than if the pipes are on the south side of the house.  My house faces north, so a north wind is not felt too badly in the back yard.  Because of fences, trees, and my neighbor's houses, a south or westerly wind is very noticeable in the trees, but not too bad in my yard.  I do feel the east wind, though.

My front porch is enclosed on 3 sides, open to the north. It gets no sun, so is cooler than the sunny air sometimes. But unless the wind is from the north, it is stiflingly warm in the summer, especially at night, when the concrete and brick have been absorbing heat all day.

Throughout town, inside and outside the Loop, large buildings have the same mitigating effect on the wind.  It is amazing.

The building I work in is in the middle of large cotton fields. We are outside the Loop. The parking lot is very large, and the walk to the building in the wind can be bitter.  Especially because the parking lot is open to the north.   As people on the South Plains like to say, there is nothing but barbed wire between us and the North Pole.  That factor often induces me to wear a much warmer coat in the mornings than I might otherwise choose.

So, we live with the wind. It influences many choices in our lives. A friend and I went out to see if it was too windy to go kayaking today.  The lake we use in town is a "run off lake."  The playas and canyon lakes catch a lot of run off water.  That means garden chemicals, street chemicals and trash accumulate in the lakes.  We do not mind kayaking on top of the water, but do we do not want to be swamped with waves on windy days.  It is less pleasant to kayak in the wind. If the water were clean, I would not mind getting wet on really warm days. But not with that water.

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