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A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Which way does the wind blow?

with 9 comments


Everyone has an opinion on which way the wind blows but Dave Rusin sent me the following message:


>1. Which direction does the wind through the Columbia Gorge blow. I hear it
>can be quite windy but get conflicting word on direction.

Planning for my own bike trip this year I found this site:


You can choose from hundreds of cities in the US and can see a
wind rose for each month. (That's a graphic that shows how often,
or how strong, the winds have been from each direction.)

Also useful: a text listing of similar data:


Today's winds:


Winds and other weather predictions for 4-7 days into the future:



Those are great tools for planning a tour.

Thanks …. Roland


Written by Roland

May 24, 2006 at 9:11 am

Posted in Tour Planning

9 Responses

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  1. Which Way Does the Wind Blow?…

    Everyone one has an opinion of which way the wind blows, but Dave Rusin has found some tools that give you the real story….


    May 24, 2006 at 9:21 am

  2. Hi, I’m from Portland(just west of the Columbia Gorge). The wind mostly blows west, in the winter or fall it is severly harsh. But don’t let this trick you into thinking that there is a day where it isn’t windy, especially if you get close to Hood River. I have travelled all over the US and Canada and I don’t know that I’ve seen places that are as beautiful as the Columbia River Gorge. If you get a chance, go along the Historic Gorge Highway, that is where the beauty really is.

    Mike Perrault

    June 25, 2006 at 5:12 pm

  3. Mike, thanks for the encouragement. The plan for July is to ride from Seattle to Portland (modified STP Route) and then follow the Columbia River on the Oregon Side (Historic Gorge Highway). From there up to Coeor D’Alene and then back through Spokane to Seattle. I am hoping it will be every thing you say.

    After years of touring in Europe and on the East Coast, this will be my first West Coast Tour. I have spent a good amount of work related time in Seattle, Spokane and Portland but never bicycled there. The strange thing is this year we have the fewest maps ever. We just don’t have hard copy maps of the ride along the Columbia, the Centennial Trail from Coeur D’Alene to Spokane, and Iron Horse Trail. We are planning to get them on the west coast.

    We have ridden in some pretty windy places in the past. Newfoundland was amazingly windy. We are just hoping that it is not a week of very strong headwinds. In Newfoundland the wind was very predictable, I am hoping we also have the wind direction right this year in the Columbia Gorge.

    Enjoy the Ride …. Roland


    June 25, 2006 at 5:54 pm

  4. After spending a summer living in New Jersey, I can tell you one awesome thing about Oregon in the summer. No bugs. There are mosquitos and all that, but nothing nasty. Also, the Gorge is lovely in the summer, a bit hot sometimes, but not bad. Enjoy your trip. The Historic(or Hysteric as my buddies call it) Hwy is lovely. Enjoy it.

    Mike Perrault

    June 28, 2006 at 6:26 pm

  5. Mike, thanks for the good words.

    It looks like there is a lot of camping and water along the route. I am more concerned about what happens after Walla Walla and before we get to Coeur D”Alene.



    June 28, 2006 at 7:24 pm

  6. I realize this is a bit late – but for ant future Gorge bikers. The northwest wind on the river consistently picks up afternoons as the warm air in the east rises and sucks marine air up the river gorge. I;m not positive of patterns farther east.

    Someone made allusion to predictable wind patterns in Newfoundland. I’m headed there this Sept, so any feedback (wind direction, weather – other camping considerations) would be great!



    May 30, 2007 at 11:38 pm

  7. Lia, I have only ridden it once and can say the July pattern of wind from the west extended almost to the Walla Walla in the Columbia River Valley. We met a group of riders that had ridden west from Ohio and they had been destroyed by the wind in Washington. But I was very pleased that we were riding from West to East. The wind peaked in the Dells.

    Maybe we can start another thread on Newfoundland, but let me say almost no one rides from North to South in Newfoundland. The whole island has strong south to north winds, strong enough that the railroad used to have wind spotters because the trains couldn’t go through some valleys when it was windy (trains are gone now). BTW, windy in Newfoundland means you can’t open the windward doors on your house in the wind. The wind is a presence that starts to drive you crazy after a while. But you will fly riding North. The ride from Port aux Basques to L’anse aux Meadows is an amazing ride.

    Camping on Newfoundland, just pull up a rock. Newfoundland is called the Rock because there is very little top soil. Not much in the way of facilities so plan on savage camping most nights and motels when it is raining. Services are mostly all-in-one gas stations about every 50 to 60 miles.

    Also, do a side trip to Labrador while you are there. If you ride to L’ance aux Meadows, the only proven Viking settlement in North America, you will ride past the ferry to Blanc Sablon.


    May 31, 2007 at 5:26 am

  8. In which general direction does the wind travel over the U.S.?


    September 26, 2007 at 8:54 pm

  9. Data seems to indicate that at ground level there is no general cross country wind direction. Yes, there are predominant cross country wind patterns at altitude but not at ground level.

    However, if you are following a river, near some geological formation or near the seacoast there are seasonal patterns at ground level. These are regional effects and should be considered when planning a tour.

    I can tell you that if you are planning to ride across the northwest in the summer, you will have a much easier ride riding towards the East. But if you are riding across the Rockies at that time it is usually easier riding West. If you are riding along the Atlantic Coast in the summer riding North is generally easier. This is definitely true when you hit Atlantic Canada.

    But I know of no cross country route that has a predominant tail wind.

    My preference is to ride cross country from West to East because in the summer the cooler routes take you through the Northwest and riding from East to West in Washington is a tough and wearing ride.


    September 26, 2007 at 9:17 pm

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