Weather Blog

Someone picked a bad day to go skiing

Someone picked a bad day to go skiing

A friend found this incredible piece of video circulating the Internet rounds this month of what happens when 110 mph winds slam into a ski lift.

The video is from the Sublette Chair at Jackson Hole, Wyoming's ski resort, taken on March 30, 2010 around 9:45. It shows what happens when a microburst of snow and wind hit just as an unlucky group of skiers were stopped up on the lift. (Warning, there is one expletive remark in the video.)


The ski lift operator says the wind gust reached 110 mph, and then amazingly tries to walk out into the howling winds to yell to the stuck skiers what they just went through. I'm sure the response was something like: "What??"

Amazingly, the airport at Jackson -- which I'm sure is at a lower altitude -- only reported a gust to 13 mph during that time, but it could have been a localized event.

Extreme wind speeds at ski resorts are nothing new to the Northwest either. Crystal Mountain in Washington's Cascades frequently records some amazing gusts during windstorms, most recently capturing a 113 mph gust during a windstorm on Jan. 18 and a 115 mph gust during a storm on Nov. 17, 2009. Their wind gauge has the advantage of not only being in an exposed location away from the interference of ground clutter, but also being at a high enough attitude to be better affected by the stronger winds at upper levels of the atmosphere.

Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains also has some wind gauges in exposed locations that frequently grab some eye-popping wind readings, hitting 127 mph in that Jan. 18 storm.

Now, you might be wondering -- geez what would the wind chill be in a 110 mph wind? Minus 100 degrees?

The answer is no -- once you get past about 50-55 mph, you have pretty much reached maximum cooling effect, to where stronger winds' effects are negligible.

In the Wyoming storm, the airport reported a temperature around 34 at the time of the microburst, so figure mid 20s up on the ski lifts with a 60+ mph wind, and that would be a wind chill of about 3 degrees above zero. Still cold, but not nose-fall-off-from-frostbite cold.

But not exactly shorts weather either :)