By Nathan Ham
Old Man Winter just isn’t leaving the High Country without at least one more cold, blustery weekend.
Temperatures will dip into the 20’s for a low this weekend and wind speeds will really pick up starting Thursday night into Friday morning. A High Wind Warning is in effect for the counties of Northwest North Carolina and Southwest Virginia from now until Saturday morning. Wind gusts are expected to reach speeds of 50 to 60 MPH with even higher gusts along the ridges and higher elevations.
Dr. Ray Russell of Ray’s Weather said “the big news in this forecast is one of the bigger wind events I’ve seen in the High Country in the past 20 years. A northwest wind increases tonight with gusts to 60 MPH later tonight, then in the 70 MPH range Friday night. Higher elevations will be off the charts.”
Of course those that are weather fanatics in the High Country will turn their attention to Grandfather Mountain this weekend to see if another wind speed record is broken. According to historical records on Grandfather Mountain’s website, the highest three-second gust ever recorded at the Mile High Swinging Bridge was 120.7 MPH which occurred on Dec. 21, 2013. That broke the previous record from Jan. 26, 2011 where the wind reached 114.7 MPH. Old folk stories suggest that wind speeds have reached well above these recorded numbers at the tip top of the mountain which lies roughly another 680 vertical feet above the weather station at the bridge.
Over the last four years, the highest wind speed recorded in Boone was 66.7 MPH and that happened just three months ago. For Grandfather Mountain, the highest recorded wind speed since 2014 took place in April of 2016 when a wind gust measured in at 109.3 MPH.