Diary entry March 30, 2014: "The wind blew hard all night long, rattling our shutters and keeping me awake."
In the morning, we realized how lucky we were that we had neither damage nor loss of electricity.
I saw you toss the kites on high
PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL BOWER
Dust devils can be caused by the wind picking up dirt.
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies' skirts across the grass
The wind, which is an important aspect in our lives, has been given many names - 127 names to be exact. Some are Santa Ana, landlash, chinook, sirocco and "the sigh in the sky."
When in the woods, I'm sure you have heard both the moaning of the wind through the bare branches of the trees and its whispering through a grove of evergreen trees.
Actually, the moan heard as the wind passed through the trees was evidence of the interchange of energy between the wind and the trees. The wind loses some of its strength by friction as it passes the needles, leaves, branches and even the bark of the trees.
Oh wind, a blowing all day long,
Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!
I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all
Experiments have shown that the wind will lose 20 percent to 40 percent of its original force after passing through 100 feet of a mature forest. The wind can be reduced as much as 93 percent after passing through 400 feet of a mature forest.
To prove this, go out on the next cold and windy day and find a field. Stand at its edge and face the wind. If the temperature is low, you won't be able to stand facing the wind for very long because it will be whipping the heat away from your body, and you will become cold.
Next, find a mature stand of trees (preferably evergreens) and walk into it, then stand facing the wind. You'll be amazed at how much warmer you will feel.
Oh wind, a blowing all day long!
Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!
Actually, all of the features on earth slow down the wind. Rocks, which appear solid to us, actually are quite porous, with billions of tiny pores that allow the air to move in and out.
As the wind passes over a rock, drops of moisture are deposited in the rock's pores. The moisture freezes as it expands, causing the surface of the rock to have tiny splits. After the tiny fragments are washed away by the rain, they appear as little grains of sand, which could be blown away by the wind.
Through the years, the atmosphere breaks up the rocks and tears down the mountains, creating an ideal place for plant and animal life on the earth.
The Appalachian Mountains, which are the oldest mountains in the United States, are 1,300 miles long and run from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to Alabama. At one time, the Appalachians were higher than the Rocky Mountains of the west but, through the centuries, they have been worn down and made smooth by the wind, rain and frost.
O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?
This interchange of the wind and rain with the earth and its features influences our weather, which affects the wind that, in turn, affects the earth's features in a never-ending cycle.
The interaction of the air and earth would be much simpler if the earth was uniformly covered with water. The smooth surface of the seas causes only minor disturbances in the air flow. Then, prevailing winds would blow as reliably as the trade winds do now.
Weather would not be as extreme because water does not warm up or cool off as rapidly as land.
Our most extreme weather conditions are not found at the poles or the equator but occur on large land masses away from our seas. Less energy is required to raise the temperature of the soil and, in the evening when the sun sets, the land cools off rapidly.
Large bodies of water, such as lakes and oceans, tend to keep temperatures from going to such extremes.
O wind, a blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!
- "The Wind" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Bower retired after 34 years as a wildlife conservation officer for the state Game Commission. He has published several books about his experiences. Questions and comments may be sent to him at 153 Redington Ave., Troy PA 16947.