Learning Comparative Weather
When we live in houses (assuming that they are sturdily-built houses), we tend to consider weather as something that happens “out there”. I’m still in the process of learning the fact that I’m closer to living “out there” than I used to be. At this camping location near the Bonneville Salt Flats east of Wendover, Utah, weather is quite an issue at times. The paved road I’m near, Leppy Pass Road, had its shoulders severely washed out last year. That’s because this whole area is basically one vast surrounding slope from several low mountain peaks down to the flats. Here, a tenth of an inch of rain is significant, and any gathering runs of rainwater become interesting.
Rains a week ago wiped out any chance of late September or October land speed record attempts. I did manage to attend one such event before that, and will post it soon. But heavy rains became redundant the evening before last, as a cool front moved in. Cool fronts bring high winds here, and they often start banging around in
all directions, regardless of which way the clouds are going.
Looking at the weather forecasts is close to useless here, since reasonable accuracy doesn’t even extend out to an hour beforehand, when violent storms are of interest. So I go on gut feel now. If there’s a mere 20% chance of rain, and I notice a predicted hour-by-hour temperature drop during the day, trouble’s a’ comin’. I don’t care about rain, lightning, or predicted winds the day before. I care about cold fronts here. That’s what I did evening before last, when winds were predicted to gust up to 15 MPH from the north, which would not cause any problems at all even at 45 MPH. Cool front moving in, thunderstorms, 80% chance of rain, and mild breezes. Sure. So I lowered the panels and tied them down, even though the storm clouds were within sight and not much was happening at all.
Low and behold, the clouds moved closer and the winds picked up rapidly from the south, which is right onto the driver’s side of the trailer where the four big panels are hung. The wind got impressive enough that the trailer was rocking of course, but the vertical panels were kind of flexing toward the trailer, which I haven’t seen before. So I got back into some predictions and saw that thunderstorms that include gusty and possibly destructive winds were now due, mainly since someone already reported 72 MPH winds just a few minutes before at a point about 12 miles SE of me, and 67 MPH winds about 30 miles SSE of me. Looks like I dodged a bullet, in other words. A weather station in Wendover, about 7 miles SW of me, logged 50 MPH winds, which is probably what hit the trailer broadside. That’s enough for me.
Today has been heavy rain off and on, predicted to be 1.3 inches in total and most likely actually near 1 inch. Here, that’s a ton, and the ground doesn’t know what to do with it except slough it off and/or be washed away. More is due tomorrow morning. Fortunately for me, the Defiant is situated on a raised gravel pad, one of two that stand alone on a gigantic slope, so I won’t be stickin’ my li’l puddies in mud unless I visit a trapped water area.
That may be a moot point, since it’s quite possible that a washout may again have occurred on the way out of here, trapping the trailer but probably not the Ford 4×4 or the e-bike. The e-bike is good for skirting around problem areas – finding a usable little path. Thus a common supply errand to town is quite feasible. What it can’t handle, like a water or a 30# propane tank run, the Ford can. Exercising bravado can be especially expensive in this area, so I’m not talking about desperate charges across spans or deep gullies of thick mud. The trail that my camp is near actually loops around mountains over a 25-mile run, if I take a shortcut. This alternate way out is less likely to show severe damage, should push come to shove. But, I’ll know tomorrow or the next day, depending on weather, when I go see what kind of shape the close, primary exit at Leppy Pass Road is in.
No worries. Although some additional days of solid overcast may limit electrical power to Conservation Mode, I’ve got food, got water, got propane for cooking, hot water and heat, got transport capable of making it to town to restock my supply of caviar, transport to hit the dump station if unexpectedly needed, and I’ve supposedly got quite a run of 60-ish degree weather ahead, my absolute favorite. Here, 65 means 65 when it’s cloudy, and about 73 if the sun is out. No more 90-degree cabin or outdoor temps! And the day’s maximum never hits until very late afternoon, so light jacket weather is a luxury I don’t often get.
Since the Defiant is easily roomy enough to ward off cabin fever over three or four days of slop, what goes on outside is of great concern when it’s severe (which is fairly frequently), and of little concern when it’s merely unpleasant. I’m in that happy in-between of immobile house and flooding tent. This is nice.
Thanks for the reflective and insightful writing Doug, it’s a pleasure.
Thank you, Rod. You’re always much kinder than my own accessment!