Things are blowing and banging around here. Trees lean over, the grass on the Adnamira hills ripples in patterns reminding me of a sandy sea bed. The hatch for our new guinea fowl house clatters every time a gust comes through. The irises in the garden flutter, no wonder they call them “flags”.
Somehow, it’s remarkably irritating. Tiring also, on the eyes and the ears.
Spring is the windy time of year here. At other times of year we often get still mornings and a breezy afternoon, but in the spring we can get day after day of wind whipping up the river valley from the northwest.
Although we had a millimetre of rain last night, there’s no sign of it. The ground is dry again and baking hard where there’s bare dirt. There’s nothing like wind for taking away soil moisture. The hills are turning from green to yellow almost as I watch, first the northwest facing slopes, and the ridges, then the more protected sides.
I worry about my little trees up on the ridges. They’ve weathered the winter (almost all of them) and now summer’s brutal heat is on its way. We use lots of mulch, mats and covers to protect them. They also get a big dose of water when they’re planted and are goosed along with liquid fertilizer to get them growing their roots downward fast. But the more exposed the site, the more they’re at risk.
Of course, few of them have even outgrown the long grass stems yet, so they’re relatively sheltered..
I’ve been looking into what is known at this stage about how climate change will affect wind in this area. A 2007 Australian Government report on Climate Change seemed to approach wind only in terms of tropical storms and fire danger, but it’s only sort-of included in drought. The Bureau of Meteorology site mainly refers to temperature and rainfall, but not wind. I assume they collect the information, because it would be essential to meteorology, but I found it difficult to access.
The wind turbine farmers are very interested in getting good data because they’d rather not build their wind farms in a place that suddenly has no wind, so their turbines are standing idly by, flicking their blades. Or have their turbines destroyed by constant high-speed gales. But they don’t really care about ground-level winds.
It hardly matters how much rain we get if it evaporates immediately due to winds. It doesn’t even need to be all that hot.
Our neighbours’ weather station records during the drought in the early 2000s showed the average winds in this area were generally brisker than in previous decades. They said it made the soil moisture levels low and led to little pasture growth, even when there were near-average amounts of rain. It seems plausible.
A 2011 article in the Australian mentioned CSIRO research that found increases in average wind speeds across much of Australia, probably due to the “tropical” zone moving south, out of the tropics into our backyard.
I need to upgrade my little electronic weather station I got from Bunnings. It’s great for measuring rain from outside while I’m inside reading the electronic monitor. Unfortunately it has no memory at all, and no way to download the information and keep it if you’re not watching at midnight. It’s like “fifty first dates” but with weather.
The wind has dropped a bit now. I’m still humming the PlaySchool version of the Christina Rossetti poem though:
“Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
the wind is passing through”