Weather Blog

Where not to go to avoid the mother of all bad hair days

Where not to go to avoid the mother of all bad hair days
Lindsey Campbell, of Beaverton, has her hair blown as she stands at Crown Point, along the Columbia River Gorge Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, near Corbett, Ore. The wind is very strong in the western end of the Gorge with gusts around 50 mph and even stronger at Crown Point. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

You've spent several minutes working to get your hair just right, and then you decided to take a day trip to the Columbia Gorge this week.

Oooooo...bad choice.

In what qualifies as one of the windiest spots in the lowlands you'll find in the Pacific Northwest, Crown Point has been living up to its reputation of late, with winds gusting well over 50 mph for days on end, with gusts Thursday once again approaching -- and even reaching -- 70 mph. Who needs Boeing to build a wind tunnel?

The source of their winds is similar to what causes the strong winds along the Cascade foothill communities in Western Washington. Dense, arctic air remains entrenched in Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon which creates higher pressure. Meanwhile, lower pressure exists over Western Washington and Oregon and over the Pacific Ocean, creating a large pressure difference.

Air likes equal pressure, so air shoots from the higher pressure to the east toward the lower pressure to the west. The Cascades provide a pretty decent barrier but breaks in the terrain -- such as the mountain passes -- allow that air to shoot through the gaps.

But if the mountain passes are a straw, the Columbia Gorge is a massive pipe, providing a nice channel for those winds to roar through. And one of the spots right in middle of that pipe is Crown Point, which is about 20 miles east of Portland right along the Gorge's outflow.

Here is a map:


View Crown Point State Park in a larger map

Especially in the winter when the cold air can remain entrenched for weeks to months to the east, the winds can roar for hours on end.

Looking back at a week's worth of data from midday Thursday in 10 minute increments, of those 120 hours, 114 of them had wind gusts of 40 mph or greater and 26 hours were gusts of 58 or more with a peak gust of 72 mph.

Suffice to say, strong winds: 1, ultra hair gel: 0

Sometimes the winds can be strong enough there to where your hair is the least of your worries. Look at this video taken in January of 2010 during a high wind event that brought winds of 100+ mph up there. Note the unique and creative ways a TV cameraman used to try to film a reporter standing in the wind -- trying to brace him and himself against a car. Wow:



If you're itching to see this for yourself, this link will get you the current observations there. Just don't bother with a hat, unless you want to see if it can fly home on its own.