GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN INSTALLS NEW ANEMOMETER AT THE MILE HIGH SWINGING BRIDGE
Grandfather Mountain installed a new anemometer February 12 to more accurately record the high winds the Mountain often experiences. Because questions have arrisen in the past year about the existing wind measuring equipment, the new anemometer was attached to the Mile High Swinging Bridge to collect undisputable data.
The debate began after the anemometer mounted on the Grandfather Mountain Top Shop building measured a wind speed of 200 mph on January 24, 2006.
Many experts in the field of meteorology and climatology said that the 200 mph wind speed readings might be inaccurate since Grandfather’s wind gauge was located on the top of a building. They stated that when the winds hit the side of the building, they would be compressed upward and spill over the roof to strike the equipment at an accelerated rate, potentially inflating the recorded data.
Grandfather Mountain President Crae Morton invited the experts to come up in March and make suggestions on how wind observations could be improved. The group recommended that a new wind speed meter be installed on a 10-meter tower to elevate the gauge high above the turbulence created when wind hits a solid object like a cliff or a building.
Grandfather Mountain took this information and experimented with the different sites that were recommended to find the location that would provide accurate readings without hampering the spectacular vistas that visitors enjoy.
“We have an obligation to collect sound, scientifically based data but we are also obligated to people on and off the Mountain to provide a beautiful view,” said Morton.
The final decision was to attach the tower to a top crossbar of the Mile High Swinging Bridge.
“The location on top of the bridge meets scientific criteria but the equipment is invisible from off the Mountain and it is not an eyesore to those up on the bridge,” said Morton. The placement of the new equipment also allows for it to come down in the warmer months when high winds are less frequent and when many visitors come to Grandfather Mountain to experience the views.
In January, Ameen Syed of the State Climate Office in Raleigh visited the Mountain to assemble the equipment and troubleshoot any issues that might develop in the process of installing the anemometer on the bridge. The next day a welder came to the Swinging Bridge to attach the pieces of metal upon which the anemometer would be installed.
The whole process of installing the anemometer was slowed down due to extreme weather. Many days work could not be completed at the Swinging Bridge due to high winds and extremely cold temperatures. On February 12 the anemometer was actually attached to the bridge and began logging data.
The wind speed meter itself looks like an airplane with a propeller spinning at one end and a tail on the other. The gauge is coated with Teflon® to keep ice from collecting on its surface. It can accurately report winds up to 224 mph although NASA has actually tested the same equipment to speeds as high as 254 mph. Numbers greater than 224 are considered less reliable.
Work is now underway to compile the information coming in from the new anemometer and put it into a database that the public can access online. Many people are interested to see the comparisons of the old equipment's information, which is still in place, and the new anemometer. When programmers complete the development of the computer program, the data will be available at www.grandfather.com.
P.O. Box 129 - US 221 & Blue Ridge Parkway - Linville, NC - 28646
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