June 14th is Flag Day so the “Old Glory” will be flying in front of the Collins Learning Center. Understand that, thanks to our friends from the AMVETS, the flag flies every day at Crossroads. And I pay a lot of attention to that flag. It is my first alert for a change in the weather. The flag and clouds.
It may seem like I am obsessed by weather, and for good reason. I am a weather geek. Many of the activities at Crossroads are weather- dependent and the safety of our visitors is important. So I have four weather apps on my cell, plus I can always check the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society’s website to learn the current weather conditions at our Big Creek Preserve. But often, I just glance at the flag. A change in wind direction? An increase in wind speed?
One of the most useful things I learned in eighth grade science class was how to estimate wind speed by looking at a flag. The method is based on the Beaufort Scale which was developed by Sir Francis Beaufort. Because Beaufort was an officer of the British Royal Navy, he used ocean conditions to indicate wind speeds. Conditions like “Sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along the direction of the wind” just don’t happen in The Cove or our new bio-retention pond.
Fortunately, the web is filled with information about the Beaufort Scale with useful conditions such as:
” Flag moves slightly in the wind, the bottom corner of the flag will hang.”[3 mph]
“ The flag will “snap” and “pop” as it waves, flaps, and ripples” [30 mph]
“What flag? If not already torn from its hoist, there will be little left of the flag to respond to the wind.” [45 mph]
In the case of heavy winds, we cancel nature hikes, and we also watch the clouds. I remember telling a group of children that if they saw a cloud shaped like an anvil, they should get to a safe place immediately. Then catching myself, I asked the kids if they knew what an anvil is.
“Sure,” they replied. “It’s what Wile E. Coyote dropped on the Roadrunner.”
Well, the children knew what shape to look for. And you can too, because on June 15, at 7:00, Crossroads will host the program the Severe Weather: When Skies Get Dark and Threatening. Mike Green, a trained storm spotter and instructor for severe weather preparedness, will describe the phases of thunderstorm development, and use photographs and videos to help describe the meaning of those dark and scary looking clouds. Get an insider’s look at being part of a college tornado chase team, and learn important thunderstorm and lightning safety lessons. The program will be of special interest to people involved in outdoor pursuits…..and to weather geeks.
Crossroads at Big Creek is a donor supported facility made up of the Big Creek, The Cove, and the Ida Bay preserves. The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan just east of the Highway 42/57 Roundabout in Sturgeon Bay, is open 2:00-4:00 daily and during scheduled activities. Trails in all preserves are open 24/7 free of charge.
Parking lot construction is underway. If our parking lot is closed, please park at the Maintenance Building (across from Whitetails) or at the Astronomy Campus lot (turn left at the Utah Street/Cove Road intersection.)