White Squall

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White Squall

Postby friggin old guy » Mon Nov 25, 2013 1:56 pm

Was up in Tahoe last Friday and toured the Thunderbird Lodge. While the lodge was interesting for it's history and location on the shore of the Nevada side of the lake, an unbelievable windstorm completely diverted my attention from the tour.

The only way I can understand it is to think that there were these rolling horizontal cylinders of northeast winds rolling off the ridges and descending down to the lake. They accelerated around a point just north of this lodge, creating a venturi effect.

The result was a constant parade of isolated gusts going up to what I guess must have been 60-70 mph. It was blowing zero to 70, and when the gusts hit, they arrived like a hammer that could blow you off your feet. Out on the water, you could see white squalls making their way across the lake and forming waterspouts. Every once in awhile, the frothing mass (right next to completely glassy water) would completely reverse itself and blow 180 degrees for about 100 yards before reverting to normal flow.

It was the most amazing wind show I've ever seen. The docents at the Lodge claimed they'd never seen anything like it and they'd been there for about 30 years. I've seen a lot of wind, but I've never seen glassy water next to 70 mph gusts, and especially gusts that would roll back over on themselves and reverse directions. It made me imagine how a boat caught in that situation could be hit by a reverse wind while still keeled over from the gust on the other side and pulled under.....the wind would circulate back on itself from the top down and concentrate the reverse gust at the surface level of the lake.

The really weird thing is that these microbursts (if that's what they were) weren't documented on wind observations by NOAA or ikite that I could find for Nov 22nd, although there were warnings for hurricane force winds at elevation.

All I know is that if I'd had even a 1m kite, it would have luffed in the lulls and absolutely kicked the shit out of me in the gusts. Hell, I'd have ejected if I was holding up a paper airplane. It was hard enough just to stand up. I was with a group of about 50 people, and it was amazing how few of them appreciated what a spectacular and unusual event were witnessing. I think they all considered me a little nutty to be impressed by the wind so much, but the sight of those completely self contained white frothing writhing gusts was like nothing I've ever seen anywhere anyplace.

Really beautiful. Trying to see if anybody got any good footage and will post......
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Postby tgautier » Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:27 pm

I'm not that surprised (by the other people's reaction).

I've noticed since becoming a wind addict that most people's understanding of wind is fairly binary: either it's windy or not.

If I even mention how wind is coming from the east not the west to the average joe I usually get a blank stare - like whatever dude.

Sounds awesome what you witnessed.
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Re: White Squall

Postby dwaynej » Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:42 pm

Awesome micro climate!

There's a place in New Zealand where the wind blows at a specific speed from a specific direction, it hits the face of an island 8 miles off the coast - This sets up a wave which rises up from then island, then back down to the ocean, where it again rises in front of a 1900' hill. Just happens to be a nice hang gliding launch spot and if you launch in the wave, it will take you to over 5000' in a perfectly smooth laminar air column. Can't get too far to the left or right and can't get too far back else you will be trashed. I have had the fortunate experience to fly this wave twice.
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Postby Ayer Nakite » Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:25 pm

Sounds like springtime at Jalama.
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