The Unfriendly Skies

  • Gerry Byrne


What most people fondly suppose to be a smooth, broad, steady stream of moving air is, in fact, no such thing. What the TV forecaster blithely shows advancing across the continent in a neat parabola of parallel arrows is, more often than not, a turbulent maelstrom of conflicting currents and eddies. If you could don magic goggles and watch from an aircraft, you would soon see that the features of the landscape below dictate much of this nearly chaotic flow. Close to the ground, the wind can behave just like a river; it dodges around mountains, rushes down valleys, and—if it contains colder, denser air—pours down hillsides. It foams up where it meets obstructions, like isolated bluffs or tall buildings, often leaving a diminishing trail of miniature whirlpools in its wake. When the wind meets a tall mountain range, it rises and then crashes over the crest like a waterfall, leaving the turbulent signs of its passing in the sky for hundreds of miles downstream.


Wind Gust Flight Attendant Rapid City Flea Market United Airline 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerry Byrne

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