Hurricane Irene grabbed all the weather headlines recently, but it was the tail-end of Hurricane Katia that caused trouble for me this week. She created 6-10 metre swells on the west coast of Ireland and the ferry to InishBofin for my writing weekend was cancelled (wisely) by the skipper. As a result I won’t be posting any idyllic island images today, sorry.
But the wind, which caused a fair bit of damage to my own garden on the east coast, got me thinking about windy words.
As a child I was delighted to discover that the inventor of the commonly used Beaufort Wind Scale in 1805, was Irish-born like me, Sir Francis Beaufort. Many thanks to Wikipedia for the following details on how it works which I had forgotten despite learning the indicators as part of my geography studies aged 12. The modern version of the scale used in Ireland and Britain (with some additions for tropical cyclones on the China Sea area) is as follows -
Zero – calm – smoke rises vertically
1 – light air – ripples without crests
2 – light breeze – leaves rustle
3 – gentle breeze – light flags extended
4 – moderate breeze – whitecaps on waves
5 -fresh breeze – small trees begin to sway
6 – strong breeze – umbrella use becomes difficult and empty rubbish bins (garbage cans) tip over – I love this description!
7 – high wind – effort needed to walk against the wind
8 – gale – cars veer on the road
9 – strong gale – large amounts of seaspray reduce visibility, some tree branches will break
10 – storm – trees broken or uprooted
11 – violent storm – widespread damage to trees and roof-tiles
12- hurricane – huge seas, totally white with waves and spray. Extensive damage to weaker structures like barns, mobile homes etc.
A sombre read, isn’t it? Reminds me of the power of the wind, and wave. The highest up the scale I’ve experienced personally is only 10 and I’m very glad of that. Yesterday, the end of Hurricane Katia, who had dropped to Atlantic storm level came through my village as a puny 7, but she still managed to wrench up a badly planted fruit tree and rip several fruit-laden branches from my tomato-patch.
Other windy words you might enjoy weaving into your weather-related small-talk this week include -
zephyr – a soft, gentle breeze
el Nino and la Nina – linked air pressure events in the Pacific which have massive influence on weather patterns globally. Explained here.
draught, gust, puff, squally, tempest, tornado, blustery
Chinook, Mistral, Monsoon, Sirocco and several other famous regional winds identified here.
My two final words relate to wind too. Do you know what they mean? Windbag and windjammer.
Until next time, happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,
And may your umbrella always remain the right way out,
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