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Monday, February 19, 2007

Fairplay Factor

People tend to be curious about day-to-day weather at 10,000 feet. Not too many people live up here, and I was a little curious myself about the winters in South Park. I'm happy to report that the weather is generally cold, windy, sunny, and we don't get as much snow as you'd think. See, people usually think we get a ton of snow, but a lot of it stays on the Breckenridge side of the pass. It's definitely not the defining feature of winter in Fairplay. That prize belongs to the wind.

My apartment sits on top of a hill overlooking the Platte River, and the wind howls straight down from Hoosier Pass at speeds that shake the building. It's intense. Here's where the mathematician/scientist in me gets to wondering. How does the daily peak wind gust compare to the daily peak temperature? Many days I think the wind gust is by far the higher number, and a comparison of the two measures could be used to determine the truly lousy weather days we sometimes have.

I'd call this comparison the "Fairplay Factor" and it would be a simple ratio of (peak wind speed)/(peak temperature) for each day. When the peak wind speed is greater than the high temperature for the day, the Fairplay Factor would be greater than one, and on really rough days I'm sure the Factor would exceed two often and three occasionally. (Sixty mph winds with a high temperature of 20 degrees is not a stretch up here.) A Fairplay Factor below one would be relatively decent, even if it were 10 degrees with a 5 mph wind.

All of my crazy ideas aside, sometimes the weather is just magic in the mountains, like yesterday when I was snowshoeing on 4 feet of snow in 40+ degree temperatures. That's more of a "Bliss Factor" if you ask me.