People & Places
As someone once said, “The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”
Bob Dylan probably wasn’t thinking of New Mexico when he wrote that line, but I’m still waiting for an answer to my question: When will the wind stop blowing in Valencia County?
How many times must I put the patio furniture back, tip the flower boxes upright, sweep leaves piled up in the doorway? The answer to that question is, too darn often.
Even though we’ve had a bit of a respite lately, this huffing and puffing from Mother Nature has left me cranky and worn out, and it’s not just me.
Our pets are out of sorts. Amelia, my wife’s beloved cat, is more squirrelly than usual. She even started to cuddle with me every day at 6 a.m. Not normal.
Spock, our laid-back family dog, feels it, too. I’ve heard Spock bark less than a handful of times over the years, yet the other day he ripped off a bark so loud we thought he was channeling Lassie from the old television show.
“Come help. Timmy has fallen into the well, again.”
Even inanimate objects are acting weird. The house creaks way more than usual, even when the winds are still. And our door bell will mysteriously ring, untouched by human hands.
Maybe this is an overreaction and I’m just getting older and even more surly. To find out for sure, I asked a longtime Valencia County resident and former television weathercaster her opinion. My wife, Pat’s response, “It’s usually windy this time of year, but the winds have come earlier and they are stronger than normal.”
Then Pat suggested talking to a true expert, one with a meteorologist degree and a bunch of fancy equipment.
Enter Clay Anderson, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. His short answer, yes, we have been experiencing more wind at an increased frequency all of 2023. See, I wasn’t just blowing smoke.
“The frequency of the jet stream dipping south into New Mexico has increased to about two times a week,” Anderson told me in late March. “The base of the upper level trough has been impacting New Mexico. It has been a very windy start to the year.”
In the Albuquerque area, data shows the daily average for wind speeds in January was above 8 miles per hour, more than 2 mph higher than normal. February and March were also noticeably higher, with a daily average in March well above average at 9.58 mph.
You know the old saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lion.” At least this year.
Who can forget some of those wind gusts? The weekend of Feb. 26 saw trees and billboards toppled, garbage bins rolling down the street and lawn ornaments crashing to the ground. Our large metal rooster, Rodney, has fallen so many times his badly bent beak needs surgery.
What about the near future? Anderson pointed out that typically April and May are New Mexico’s windiest months. Yikes!
Because the windy pattern started in January, could that mean it will end earlier than usual, I wondered?
“It’s not going away anytime soon,” Anderson said based on historical weather patterns. However … “The going theory (at the office) is that the wind might turn off earlier than normal.”
That optimism helps to settle my nerves a bit and is a reminder that the wind for most of us is just a nuisance, but for others it’s a danger. That includes roofers all around Valencia County, wildland firefighters who have already tackled several blazes not far from here and the poor folks in many parts of the country who have dealt with months of deadly weather.
We have had some recent calm days which gives me hope and settles my nerves. And, of course, before too long we’ll be dealing with sweltering heat in July and August.
No doubt I’ll be pleading, “A little breeze would be nice.”
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.