The Wind Sparks Many Conversations in Greater Palm Springs

Cornet, James/Clawson, Haley

Meet Senior Biologist James Cornett, President of JWC Ecological Consultants at Rancho Mirage. Back when the Palm Springs Museum of Art was called the Palm Springs Desert Museum, Cornett ran the shop, earning his chops as the go-to person for flora, fauna and, in this case, of wind in the Coachella Valley. . He agrees, to some extent, with the 2019 assessment by American Scientist‘s Chelsea Harvey that climate change has made the world’s winds faster. “I haven’t noticed much change in wind speed since I first moved to the Coachella Valley in 1972,” says Cornett, who experienced varying levels of wind at Desert Hot Springs in the 1970s. “I lived in Desert Hot Springs, in the center of Palm Springs in the 1980s and in the south end of Palm Springs since the early 2000s. But now we have NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] data clearly showing that the average wind speed has increased throughout the American Southwest, in direct contradiction to my personal experience. This is why we, myself included, should rely on data legitimately collected by scientific organizations rather than the personal experiences and memories of individuals. The latter is often incorrect; the former rarely are.

Haley Clawson, KESQ’s chief meteorologist, adds another consideration: “Maybe [the reason] it may seem windier at times is our lack of rain. The drier the ground, the more sand and dust are lifted into the air, causing problems for desert drivers.


In his essay “A Brief History of How the Wind Drives Us Crazy” (NYRBAugust 13, 2019), the late British author Lyall Watson cites the work of Israeli pharmacologist Felix Sulman on his country’s responses to high winds. They include “migraines, allergic reactions, hot flashes, palpitations, irritability…and nausea.” (Just drive them mesh.)


“Decarbonize the network”

It’s the buzzword among clean energy proponents. As U.S. Representative Raul Ruiz pointed out, the Coachella Valley is poised to become the nation’s clean energy capital, with solar panels collecting our abundant sunshine, the Salton Sea generating geothermal energy ( General Motors has its eyes on the lithium buried there). , too), and wind turbines dotting San Gorgonio Pass, producing electricity from nothing.

Desert Community Energy

Desert Community Energy, established in April 2020, is a local example of what is known in California as a community choice aggregation program which, according to its website, “provides ratepayers with a choice of electricity providers” and whose duties and limits are specified. in more than a dozen pages of state law language in Assembly Bill 117, approved and introduced on September 24, 2002. Aggregators and service providers are part of the plan, which does not is not meant to replace Southern California Edison and is an “opt-in” which they believe will increase the amount of electricity and advance cheaper, 100% renewable, carbon-free local renewable energy, but offered at an additional cost.


Edison, Southern California

As of 4:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving afternoon in 2021, 63,844 customers in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties were “turned off” due to public safety power outages during extraordinarily high winds that have exceeded safety thresholds. What is Southern California Edison doing to mitigate the effects of raging winds that spread small fires and cause outages?

SCE spokesman Jeffrey T. Monford points to the utility’s actions which he says have already reduced some of the threat. “SCE has installed 2,500 miles of insulated conductors that prevent sparks from flying, combined with segmented and more granular coverage so that if there is an outage it affects fewer homes,” he says, noting that breakdowns are a measure of last resort during extremely difficult times. on windy days when there is a high risk of forest fire. “Because the desert floor is relatively devoid of kindling, there is less chance of wildfires here than in any other part of SCE’s service territory.”

Edison, speaking of

Have you ever wondered why so many different electricity providers around the world have Edison in their name? U.S. too. It turns out that Thomas Edison would forgo making companies pay for his patents if they agreed to put his name on their companies.


Warning flag, red

Sometimes during high winds, Cal Fire (Riverside County Fire Department) issues a red flag warning. What does it mean? Battalion Commander Robert Clark explains:[The warning] may be issued within 24 hours of the occurrence of certain weather conditions or [if] there is a high degree of confidence that these conditions will occur. These conditions are based on wind and humidity criteria or when heavy lightning is forecast on dry combustibles [that] can cause wildfires to spread rapidly. These criteria include the relative humidity at
15 percent, sustained winds at 25 mph and gusts up to 35 mph for six hours or more. [Under those conditions,] fire departments will have additional equipment and personnel and will be able to call on the state’s Mutual Aid System for assistance “to fight any new fires that may arise.

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