Thursday 12 October 2017

A Few Remarks on the Helm Wind (1836)

A few remarks on the Helm Wind. By the Rev. William Walton, of Allenheads, near Hexham. Communicated by P. M. Roget, M.D., Sec. U.S. 

On the western declivity of a range of mountains, extending from Brampton, in Cumberland, to Brough, in Westmoreland, a distance of 40 miles, a remarkably violent wind occasionally prevails, blowing with tremendous violence down the western slope of the mountain, extending two or three miles over the plain at the base, often overturning horses with carriages, and producing much damage, especially during the period when ripe corn is standing. It is accompanied by a loud noise, like the roaring of distant thunder: and is carefully avoided by travellers in that district, as being fraught with considerable danger. It is termed the helm wind; and its presence is indicated by a belt of clouds, denominated the helm bar, which rests in front of the mountain, three or four miles west of its summit, and apparently at an equal elevation, remaining immoveable during twenty-four or even thirty-six hours, and collecting or attracting to itself all the light clouds which approach it. As long as this bar continues unbroken, the wind blows with unceasing fury, not in gusts, like other storms, but with continued pressure. This wind extends only as far as the spot where the bar is vertical, or immediately over head; while at the distance of a mile farther west, as well as to the east of the summit of the mountain, it is not unfrequently almost a perfect calm. The author details the particulars of an expedition which lie made with a view to investigate the circumstances of this remarkable meteorological phenomenon, and proposes a theory for its explanation. 

A Meteorological Journal kept at Allenheads, 1400 feet above the level of the Sea, from the 1st of May to the 1st of November, 1836. By the Rev. William Walton. Communicated by P. M. Roget, M.D., Sec. R.S.