By Marcia E. Gawecki
On Sunday morning, Jan. 8, the overhead hazard sign on Hwy. 10 near Riverside read: “Strong winds ahead. High profile vehicles not recommended.”
There weren’t many trucks on the highway at that time because they could “fishtail” all over the road. At area rest stops, many trucks were parked, likely waiting for the winds to subside.
Palm trees blew and Acacias bowed in the wind. Debris blew across the road.
Just then, the school van moved to the left without me turning the wheel. That was really scary! So I slowed way down. I was glad that no students were in the van then because they would have been nervous.
At 9 a.m., I entered Ontario International Airport to pick up students from Idyllwild Arts Academy who were coming back from Winter Break. Classes would resume on Monday, Jan. 9. However, with the strong winds in Riverside and Ontario, it was debatable if all the planes would land.
According to Weather.com, a national weather website, winds at Ontario on Sunday were strong at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., gusting to 37 mph.
However, after the 6:57 a.m. sunrise, they diminished to approximately 22 mph at 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. when most of the students were arriving.
“United cancelled a lot of flights this morning,” said Janet, a volunteer at Ontario Airport. “We’re not sure if it’s because of the strong winds or bad weather at another airport. They don’t give us the details.”
However, Wilma, another volunteer, said that travelers had been stopping by their booth all morning to get vouchers to go elsewhere.
“One poor guy over there has been waiting nine hours to get home,” Janet added.
Wilma said that the cancelled flights seem to be connecting through Denver.
Janet looked at the newspaper she was reading and said it was 34 degrees in Denver with snowfall.
Many of the Idyllwild Arts students expected to arrive were coming from northern California or the southwest, with no connections through Denver.
They arrived on time without much mention of the wind. Siryah’s direct flight from Oregon was an hour late because of another plane delay, and not the wind, she said.
However, others students coming from northern California complained about the wind’s turbulence around Ontario, even when the winds supposedly had diminished.
“That was not fun,” said Will, a music student, about his 2 p.m. Southwest plane’s landing. “We heard that you guys had some wind on the ground here.”
The shuttle driver at Ontario Airport said that the winds were pretty strong around 9 a.m. when he arrived for his shift, but everything turned calm around 1 p.m. That was about the time that Weather.com, reported that the winds had subsided.
“I’m sure if the winds got too bad, they’d close down the airport,” the shuttle driver added. “But I’ve worked here three years now and it hasn’t happened yet.”
He went on to say that fog was a bigger factor in closing down area airports, such as San Diego and Longbeach.
“They’ll land over here if there’s fog in San Diego,” he said. “Pilots can’t see anything in the fog.”
By 5 p.m. when the last van headed toward the San Jacinto mountains from Ontario, the winds had diminished to 9 mph, hardly worth mentioning. However, the nearly full moon was looming large and beckoning us home.
Copyright 2o12 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.
Published on: Jan 9, 2012 @ 9:08