11:05am

Sat February 15, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

'O Wind A-Blowing!'

We're closing in on March, when wind, "blowing in like a lion," takes its big annual bow. Wind is invisible, of course, except for what it moves, touches. "I saw you toss the kites on high," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson. ...

... And blow the birds about the sky;

And all around I heard you pass,

Like ladies' skirts across the grass --

O wind, a-blowing all day long,

O wind that sings so loud a song! ...

The wildest wind I've ever seen a-blowing (that wasn't a movie effect) comes from this video, shot at a research facility in Antarctica. Christine Powell is taking us on a tour of the Scott Base, and as we walk along a corridor, she comes to an outside door. But the sign on the wall says it's a Category One day, meaning, "Don't Go Out"; or rather, "Don't Even Think About Going Out." Christine, however, who is married to the famous "Frozen Planet" photographer Anthony Powell, seems to be a little on the naughty side, so she turns the door knob, opens the door, and, oh my God:

If you take W. C. Field's famous skit, where he steps outside and meets a gale at the door ("It ain't a fit night out for man nor beast!" he cries), and imagine, say, 9,000 more prop assistants all throwing buckets of snow full force, maybe that could equal what was going on at Christine's door in Antarctica. Winter down there is, I suppose, as bad as it gets, not that the rest of the world doesn't have its moments. A couple of months ago, the wind got so fierce on a street corner in Alesund, Norway, that young, totally fit people had trouble crossing the street. Older folks needed police help:

But for my taste, the most wonderful, windiest wind was created by two nice old gentlemen who do a secret business in an underground tunnel that nobody knows about. Their wind, in this animated film by Robert Loebel, is so continuous and so mighty, barbers and beer drinkers and nannies happily learn to live with it until, inevitably, the windy season (as I suppose it must) comes to an end. What comes "in like a lion" suddenly, mysteriously, stops blowing. Take a look:


If you just love looking at wind, there's a site that lets you sit and stare at wind currents swirling across oceans, continents spiraling into gyres, unwinding at the equator in real time. You can take your mouse, turn the earth, move in — and the wind keeps blowing and blowing. It's gorgeous:



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