Published May 29, 2022

Upside Down Under: The Saudi Arabia of wind…

Written by
Marvin Nelson
| The Dakotan
In the opinion of Marvin Nelson
Marvin Baker
In the opinion of Marvin Nelson
Marvin Baker

When I was working at the Minot Daily News, I interviewed Senator Kent Conrad one day about the rise of wind energy in North Dakota. On that day, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for a wind energy project near Velva.

At one point during our interview Conrad told me that wind energy has no limit in North Dakota because “we are the Saudi Arabia of wind.”

Most of us know that Saudi Arabia has an unlimited oil supply and Conrad’s comment, of course, was that North Dakota has an unlimited wind supply.

Unfortunately, that’s one of the downsides of living in North Dakota. I’m sure most of you will agree that we can deal with the bitter cold of winter, but it’s the wind that makes it miserable.

This spring seems to be especially daunting. I don’t know why. I don’t have statistics to back it up, but it just seems like the wind is constantly blowing, day by day and most nights.

It’s eased off a little during the past few days and we might get one nice day in a week of windy days.

But it’s always been windy in North Dakota. We know that. Again, I don’t have statistics but it seems the wind speed has ramped up dramatically in recent years and I wish someone in meteorology could explain that to us.

Why is it always so windy?

In May 2011 I opened my greenhouse. From that time to the end of 2021, it has held up in 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts five times. This year, it has already seen 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts twice. I take note of 70 mph because that’s about the speed of a hurricane.

When the greenhouse opened, I logged wind speed at 50 mph or higher, because let’s face it, a wind that speed can do serious damage to a greenhouse. But as time went on, 50 mph became so frequent I just aban-doned that and bumped it to 70 mph. If I’m in business another 10 years, will I have to switch it to 80 mph?

Why are we getting hurricane-force winds more often than we used to get?

I’ve lived here my entire life except for a year away on military duty. My brother has been here his entire life as well, except for a year working in a ship yard in Washington. He is 72, and I’m 63. We had a chat about the wind one day. He told me he doesn’t ever remember the wind being as bad as it has been this year. And I fully agree.

When I was a kid I played baseball and loved it. But it was so frustrating trying to play outfield on a windy day. It was nearly impossible to judge where the fly ball was going to come down because the wind would sometimes blow it in an unlikely direction.

When I grew up I joined the North Dakota National Guard and every year had to take a physical training test that included a two-mile run. Several of those years it was nearly impossible to pass the two-mile because of the strong wind that was blowing on the track.

Now that I’m gardening, I have to be so careful otherwise the wind will take it. Doesn’t matter what it is, the wind will take it.

Last Saturday I wanted to mow my lawn but first had to pick up a bunch of shingles that had blown in from somewhere on the previous Friday when it was just another day in northwestern North Dakota with the wind at 60 miles per hour.

On Tuesday I discovered where those shingles came from. They blew off the north side of a vacant cafe and traveled almost three blocks landing on my lawn. This is a residential area with large cottonwood trees. Just how in the world did those shingles get from there to here? I’m completely puzzled, because it wasn’t a tornado.

I love being out in nature and often wonder what advantage wind could have in nature. I found out Tuesday when the wind was light, flies and mosquitos.

I’m tired of watching the weather on TV. One meteorologist will tell you on Monday that the winds will be ramping up for the rest of the week and the other will tell you, “It’ll be nice, but it’s gonna be windy.”

OK, so we’ve all dealt with it, but quite frankly, it’s testing my patience. Is it testing yours? Siding blows off the house, TV antennas are destroyed, you sit in the cab of your truck and it just whistles and rocks as if your in a boat.

Why is it always so windy?

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