Rain Shadow

Yesterday we drove over the Sierra mountains, rushing to beat the storm home. It started to snow a little over the summit, but when we arrived in Reno there was blue sky overhead and a warm breeze. I decided that if I was going to get a chance to take a walk I better go right away.

Our little neighborhood is only about five miles from the eastern edge of the mountain range. If you visualize the clouds coming from the west and bumping against the mountains to get over the top, you’ll realize that they are too heavy and need to drop that excess weight before rising up. When it is extremely windy, like it was yesterday, the wind literally blows the top off those clouds. This is called the rain shadow effect. The clouds fall apart on our side of the valley and then regather on the far side. The result is that we get this peaceful place with clear skies and very little rain or snow. Our average rainfall is just 8 to 9 inch per year.

The storm pushes all the warm air in front of it as it approaches. It is wonderful walking when it is so warm. But as I went further the wind got stronger and stronger. The news reported 60 mile-an-hour gusts here and 125 over the summit. Four semi trucks were toppled. You can feel the wind coming through the treetops before it hits with such force that it suspends your step until momentum pulls you through it. Instinct makes you close your eyes while the wind sucks the breath from your lungs. Then it’s gone.

I watched the birds thrown around like popcorn in the sky, while the tumbleweeds and leaves dance up the streets like kids playing tag. Light from the sun contrasts with the brooding darkness of the clouds. It’s magical.


Anonymous said...

As always your photo's are fantastic. I loved your description of the windy conditions too.


Ambrose said...


"Eyes Up"
Especially for those who do not need as much sleep, as they used to

Did you know that Comet McNaught
will be visible any time now and we are told that it will probably be the brightest comet ever seen

Initially it will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere starting with Western States of the U.S.A.

Then after a few weeks, it will become visible in the Southern Hemisphere

And up until today I had not even heard of it

So when you have seen it,
Please pass it on to
at Felixstowe, England.