I had planned on leaving mom’s place in Palm Desert for home on the day prior, but a storm system coming into California was expected to cause strong winds and perhaps some interesting wave clouds on this afternoon. I stuck around an extra night, and in the early afternoon I made my way to the Banning Pass and Whitewater, along Interstate 10. The westerly winds were already fairly impressive, gusting to perhaps 40 mph. The peak of the event would be later, around sunset. A few high lenticulars were starting to form, too. After a Del Taco meal, I stopped in a few places to get some cloud and wind turbine (eyesore) shots. The wind at the Whitewater exit on I-10 was particularly fierce, with bouts of sand and difficulty opening the vehicle door. I measured a gust of maybe 45 mph with the hand-held Kestrel.
There was dust getting kicked up in spots near the wind turbines. If the wave clouds were not going to be really good, and if there was no reason to leave this area, at least I had some interesting subject matter to shoot towards sunset.
There is a hill just to the north of I-10, on the east side of Whitewater River. It would be cool to get a perspective of the wind turbines from up there, I figured! And probably windier, too. I found the dirt road that winds up the hill and winds up at the top. Gad — it was NASTY up here! Almost continuous blowing dust was up the road to the north a little ways, so I approached that. The road was near the crest of the hill and along the western edge which looks over the steep hill down to the Whitewater River. I found a turnout where the winds were howling, and managed to get out of the Xterra somehow. I have been in four hurricanes, and I don’t think that I have ever experienced winds as strong as I did for those few minutes! I made my way over to the edge of the hill. Winds were blasting me from the west, with plenty of dust and dirt. I covered my face and held the Kestrel up high. 71 mph! I could not take it anymore. It was very difficult to stand up in the wind. Lord knows how strong the other gusts were while I was poking around up on this hill. The driver’s side of my car suffered sand-blasting effects, with a zillion tiny specks where the paint is no longer. The windshield is twice as bad as it was. It was sand blasted in the Owens Valley about four Decembers ago. With 260,000 miles on the Xterra and plenty of hail dings, who cares how it looks anymore?!
iPhone movie 1082
Well, I managed some pretty blowing dust shots, some eyesore pics, and nice sunset images. The lenticulars were pretty darn good for a while, too…not a bad chase for a drive from mom’s to home!