200 mph wind gusts at N.C. mountain won't be 'official'

200 mph wind gusts at N.C. mountain won’t be ‘official’

GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN, N.C. (AP) — Wind gusts of at least 200 mph at the visitors center here won’t be accepted by some groups — including the National Weather Service — because they don’t control how the wind-measuring equipment on Grandfather Mountain is set up.
A light snow and frost capped ridge is seen as the sun rises over Grandfather Mountain near Linville, N.C. A light snow and frost capped ridge is seen as the sun rises over Grandfather Mountain near Linville, N.C.
Jim Morton, AP/Grandfather Mountain

“We would not record it because (the wind gauge) is not sited according to standards,” said Ryan Boyles, an associate climatologist with the State Climate Office of North Carolina.

Larry Lee, a science and operations officer for the National Weather Service’s Greenville-Spartanburg office in South Carolina, which covers Avery County, said something similar: the weather service has no information about the anemometer — or wind gauge — on Grandfather.

It was late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning when Grandfather Mountain’s wind gauge got stuck at 200 mph, where it tops out. That’s the highest wind speed measure at the 5,964-foot peak since readings began in 1955. The visitors center sits about 700 feet below the peak, which is a travel attraction and nature preserve.

The previous record of 196 mph was set in 1997.

The wind knocked out reinforced glass from the visitors center and carried it 278 yards, and chunks of a wood-and-metal window frame were blown 224 yards down the mountain.

One problem with the equipment at Grandfather Mountain, the experts say, is that the wind gauge is mounted on the visitors center’s roof, which they say is a no-no, because of the way that location affects wind speed.

“The winds get amplified around objects and over objects,” Boyles said. “It can really get amplified going over a roof.”

Crae Morton, the president of Grandfather Mountain Inc., said he understood the official position.

“Maybe that’s something we can do scientifically,” she said of the mountain’s wind speed measurements.

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