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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published October 20 2012

Weather Talk: Back in the day, this week’s wind would be ‘hurricane'

Very high winds across western North Dakota Wednesday and Thursday included a few gusts to around hurricane force. A gust to 78 mph was measured by a weather spotter in Halliday. The standard equipment at the Hettinger Airport recorded a gust to 71 mph.

Obviously, these straight-line winds were not related to an actual hurricane in any way. A hurricane is a storm of tropical origin. Most people can recognize a hurricane is a satellite picture on television as a swirling, round weather system, often with a hole in the middle known as an eye.

But think back to how weather was observed a hundred years ago. Before satellite pictures, the hurricane experience was one of rain with very high wind. A hundred years ago, this week’s wind storm would have been correctly called a hurricane.

In the early days of the National Weather Service, any damaging straight line wind not associated with a tornado was classified as a hurricane. The modern definition evolved during the 20th century.


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