High winds swooped in, gusts reach low 70s

High winds hammered the area last week, with some of the highest gusts in the state recorded in southwest North Dakota.

Wind-1-RGBBy COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

For nearly two days last week the areas of Adams, Bowman, Dunn, Hettinger and Slope Counties were under a high wind warning issued by the National Weather Service of Bismarck. Steady winds of 40 mph or higher, or gusts measuring at 58 mph or higher, activates such a warning. The warning was for all 36 counties in western and central North Dakota covered by the Bismarck office.

Preliminary weather reports recorded wind speeds at 53 mph with a high gust speed of 71 mph at the airport in Hettinger on Nov. 18, and speeds of 37 mph with a high gust speed of 48 mph were recorded the following day.

High wind warnings were also issued for parts of northern South Dakota and eastern Montana.

The warning lasted from 8 a.m. on Nov. 18 to 11 a.m. on Nov. 19.

The National Weather Service posted a high wind watch a few days prior, and as the days passed it was obvious that the region would be getting the breezy weather, so they upgraded it to a warning.

“What creates (the high winds) is a very strong difference in air pressure,” said John Martin, a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.

A low pressure system moved through the area followed by a very high pressure system, both were strong. The difference between the two is what generates wind, and this difference was “extreme,” according to Martin.

Martin said extreme movement of the hands on the weather instrument would have entertained anybody with a barometer because the difference was so great.

Martin added that the conditions absolutely trend towards fall and winter. Conditions during those times are right for such windy conditions when the weather is going from a warmer temperature to a cooler temperature (fall to winter), or from cooler to warmer (winter to spring).

Following days of high winds, temperatures drop but the air is in a much more calm state until the next system arrives.

Prior to days of high winds and changing pressure, there would be a period of higher temperatures, Martin said. Area residents experienced warm weather during the previous weekend as temperatures were in the 50s and 60s.

Wind speeds measured at the Hettinger airport showed gusts of 71 mph, which was good enough for second highest in the state behind only Garrison in McLean County. McLean County also had gusts recorded of 70 mph followed by Selfridge in Sioux County with a gust speed of 68 mph on record.

Martin wanted to emphasize the need to take the warning seriously. Debris can be pushed around at high speeds and can do damage to property or worse, cause bodily harm. Traveling can also be treacherous through high wind speeds and particularly high-speed gusts. The force can blow your vehicle off the road or into another vehicle if you don’t keep a good grip and an eye on the road. So pay attention to the weather report and be aware of flying objects and on coming vehicles when trying to navigate two lane highways during a breezy day.

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