Wednesday night, winds howled past 60 miles an hour. Yesterday morning we flicked on flashlights, picked up debris, and wended our way around blocked roads.
I’ve lived here all my life. I forget a lot of things, but I’m pretty sure that until a few years ago, the only time we worried about high winds was in a hurricane or nor’easter.
Now, every few weeks the weather forecast includes a “High Wind Warning.”
Bob Dylan said you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, but I wanted confirmation that it’s windier now than when, well, Dylan was a rebellious young folk singer.
So I went to my favorite weatherman: Jacob Meisel.
The Harvard-bound Staples senior — whose forecasts are more accurate than anyone else’s, and whose Southwestern CT Weather blog sits atop my Favorites list — said this:
“You are right that these wind events are becoming more common, at least in the past 5-10 years or so.
“Through my experiences here in the past 7 years, a High Wind Warning would only be issued once a year, if that, with Wind Advisories being more common, especially as they rarely cause much damage. However, over the past 2 years there has certainly been an uptick in the number of High Wind Warnings.
“A lot of this has to do with technology. As weather models have gotten better measuring wind speeds in the atmosphere and not just at the surface, they can more accurately predict wind gusts and how much of the atmospheric wind will mix down to the surface.
“I also believe the National Weather Service has gotten a little less conservative with the High Wind Warnings over the last few years. The last time one was issued winds did not come very close to the 58 mph criteria, and I questioned why they were issued.
“Over the past few years there has been an uptick in storms that can produce these strong winds as well, possibly due to a 10-20 year pattern known as the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. Changing ocean and climate patterns that occur naturally over a 10-20 year span can often dictate paths low pressures take over a long period of time, and the positive phase we are in now is more commonly attributed to tropical disturbances along the east coast, hence both Irene and Sandy.”
So to paraphrase Jacob: The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.