Niagara Escarpment, Lake Michigan Keep Things Breezy In Door County
3/14/2013 12:00:00 AM
By Bob Dohr
No, it's not your imagination. It is windy a lot in Door County.
If you want to know how windy, well, that's a short question with a long answer. We'll come back to that one.
We'll start with the why question, which is a bit easier to tackle.
Assistant State Climatologist Ed Hopkins says part of the reason Wisconsin's thumb has a breezy bent is because of the way the Door Peninsula juts out into Lake Michigan.
Hopkins says the Niagara Escarpment, the geologic landform that creates the rocky cliffs along the Green Bay shoreline, also serves as a wind-enhancer.
Hopkins tells DoorCountyDailyNews.com there's not enough consistent, long-term wind data -- the kind of info climatologists like -- to draw meaningful wind comparisons between different spots of the state. Yet.
But he says starting in the mid-1990s more airports around the state started compiling standardized wind data. For example, you can find such information for Door County Cherryland Airport here. Hopkins says 20 years ago only a handful of airports in the state kept track of such data. Now he says the number is more like 60 or 70.
Hopkins also directed us to a website hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado -- a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy, http://www.windpoweringamerica.gov/, which provides wind speed information. For example you can look at a color-coded map of Wisconsin showing the average annual wind speed at a height of 30 meters at different locations in the state. The map clearly shows spots of higher wind speeds in Door and Kewaunee Counties, among other places.
Even after reliable long-term data is compiled -- Hopkins says they like to have 30 years' worth -- the 'Wisconsin's windiest county' question probably won't have a definite answer because there are so many ways to categorize wind strength of a particular region, including number of windy days per year, highest average wind speed, or number of wind gusts over a certain speed over a particular time frame.