Unsettled Beauty

winds of change

The growing demand for change billows up, like the fantastic cumulonimbus clouds gathering in our skies. Recent storms have produced record breaking cloud tops for Western Washington- which means the true power in these thunderstorms is awesome. I’m a gal from Oklahoma, where not only the wind comes sweeping down the plain, but also the storms. Moving to Washington, I found that if a t-storm did occur, it was brief- with only one or two claps of thunder. Over the past two years, storms, especially in late Spring, have become real beasts. Last June, 2019, we had record breaking lightning strikes in the greater Seattle area. Perhaps as climate continues to claim, these more turbulent weather patterns will become the norm.

One morning, in early June, the NOAA weather radio alerted us of powerful thunderstorms erupting in the early morning across our state. It actually alarmed twice, which I’d never experienced before. In less than an hour, I’d rushed to put away all the animals and tie down any loos tarps around the property as thunder rumbled almost continuously all around. The storm warning predicted 60mph winds, with catastrophic lightning strikes. We missed the high winds, but had at least two strikes on the land. It was such a unique situation, yet the forecasters have continued to warn that these formations will continue as the pressure systems grow.

A quick note on weather formation and why these storms are happening. When clouds rise up high into the sky, they become dense and cold. If the ground far below remains warm- heated up by warm Spring weather- this convection stirs up the atmosphere and brings turbulent weather down upon us. That film at the top of the page shows the stirring of the air as warm and cool air collide through an unstable front. The jet stream also plays a role in this upheaval. During the winter, the jet stream sits over Washington state, bringing us all the tropical rain from The Pacific, keeping us soaked. In Spring and Fall, the powerful stream of air moves, traveling up into Canada in the warm months, allowing high pressure systems to bring all the sun, and then falling back down into Washington in the Fall. These transition times are unstable, with cold and warm air moving together in turbulent systems of change.

Change is often bumpy, as settled ways become upended, bringing instability and concern. It is good to be aware of changes, especially in the air currents, and in social shifts as consciousness continues to grow. Having an understanding of the weather, even on a seasonal level, can help us prepare for change. Strengthening our resiliency towards both social and meteorological instability takes a lot of learning, and adaptability. The success depends on flexibility, morphing into new shapes, and releasing the old. This is always a struggle in human evolution- how to evolve without loosing the familiar. But mother nature never rests, and what may have always been predictable, such as weather, is changing fast.

Here at EEC Forest Stewardship, we are constantly reworking our adaptations to work with weather, rather than against it, because in the end, nature’s fury will win. So, what to do? Here’s a short list of examples being implemented at our property now:

-steeper roof pitch on all future buildings to address heavy snow loads in winter

-metal large gauge gutters to handle intense rain events

-replanting of all steep banks on the property to combat erosion and land slides

-selecting livestock that can handle the range of temperatures and climate in our area

-retention of water and its even dispersal across the landscape to prevent flooding and drought

-watching weather patterns to be aware of impending storms and dramatic shifts in temprature

In October, 2020, we had an incredible arctic storm arrive before Halloween. Usually at this time of year, we receive wind events, which knock out power and bring down any loose branches and trees. It’s intense, but this year, it came with extreme cold. How cold? Well, we went from the usual 40s at night to teens in one weekend. In my 10 years of living here, I’ve never experienced such a shift so early in the fall. It’s hit farmers hard, and put stress on the animals, who are still shifting their own biorhythms from summer to winter. Our saving grace was having a prediction of this dramatic change in time to winterize our pipes and set up shelter for the animals against the freeze.

These events will continue, and rather than feeling like we’re always trying to catch up, we’ve initiated full engagement with these climate extremes, and braced for change. It would be unsustainable to constantly fight it, fear it, or deny these climate shifts. Sadly, a lot of people are afraid, feeling helpless, and unable to adapt. Layer COVID-19 into the fray and you’ve got a perfect storm. At EEC Forest Stewardship, we’re battening down the hatches and checking our tie downs on the hay. Embracing the new change that’s arriving, and celebrating another day of thriving abundance here in Western Washington.

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