An Aleutian Williwaw! It was one of those fierce, deep, low pressure systems that you can’t even imagine, even when your Air Force military occupation is a weather observer and you’re observing it. I was living on a teensy little flat wedge of an icy island near the tip of the Aleutian chain called Shemya, when this puppy hit the Remote Observation Site I was working at. The wind was so fierce before work started that I needed permission from Base Security to even go out in a vehicle to get to work, where I would be the solitary human in the station. By the end of my shift, winds were up to 45 knots prevailing, with frequent gusts to 80 knots. In those conditions, I was not allowed to leave the building, nor was my relief allowed to come to work (nor would I really want to go outside for that matter), so I stayed there. It hit 92 knots before deciding to mellow out (that’s 114 mph). In the weather biz, hurricane force winds are considered to be 75 mph or more. But there was no hurricane… just unrelenting Alaska weather.

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