Washoe Zephyr wind whips through Valley
April 12, 2005
by JoEtta Brown
My Foothill View
It was approximately 3 a.m. in the morning when I heard a noise much like a freight train moving rapidly towards my home.
Windows rattled, creaking sounds came from my roof, and then a swooshing sound once the wind had passed. Again and again this same sound passed by, and even sounded as if it were moving through my home.
There had been another such wind storm that took part of my roof over into our front yard. Fearful that this had happened again, I suppose my thoughts were to wait until dawn to see if there had been any damage.
It was, however, a rather dreadful night and I was determined to find out more about the wind and its origin.
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Prevailing winds also help to make the climate of a place what it is. The direction from which the winds most often come is called the prevailing-wind direction.
On the West Coast of the United States the mountains of the coast ranges and the Sierra Nevada are the reason for the desert areas of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.
The prevailing northwest winds blow inland from the Pacific Ocean and are lifted by the mountains. So all the moisture rains out of the northwest winds. The wind that finally gets over the mountains is dry. A hot, dry wind sweeps into Nevada and Arizona.
Just a bit of historical information from Mark Twain who often visited Carson City, Genoa, and the foothill area. It appears that the wind I am writing about is described as a “Washoe Zephyr” prone to destruction.
Strong enough to blow the roof off any number of houses, barns, and any other building that man has built.
This wind is often referred to as a peculiar scriptural wind, in that no man knoweth “whence it cometh.” It swiftly and silently begins on the west side of the Sierra Nevada, builds speed and sound, and then hits full force in the Carson Valley.
It is not the same wind that travels east beyond the Carson Valley. Other areas in Northern Nevada do not experience the “Washoe Zephyr.”
There is the California Zephyr that does not really have the same dynamics as our Washoe Zephyr. It must have some significance as Amtrak named it’s first full line passenger train the “California Zephyr.” It was supposed to be the fastest train of its day, just like the wind.
Within the same week the winds blew just as strong and two remarkable things happened. As we watched the ceremony for Pope John Paul II, a variety of birds flew in strange patterns. Many landed on our roof and also on our neighbors roof.
I counted five different species who had a great difficulty with the wind. One beautiful bird had a golden breast and there was a large flock that settled in the trees. Believe it or not, at the end of the ceremony all the birds were gone. According to the Bible, birds are a sign of peace, especially the dove.
And once more this spring the house wren has built it’s nest in a precarious place within the wreath on my front door. And in spite of the high winds they survived, and were part of the flocks of birds that came, and went with such grace.
The house wren decided to stay, and now I cannot open my front door without disturbing this welcomed guest and their little family.
Even when I pass the door going down my own hallway a tiny little bird head perks up and tweets to remind me to be quite. All in all, I consider it a blessing, borne on the wind, bringing pleasure.
— JoEtta Brown can be reached at JoetBro@aol.com.