Wind in tree tops

Went out on the local lake this afternoon for a quick paddle. Winds around 5 - 10 sustained, but with gusts up to a legit 25 mph. The variance between relatively calm sustained and powerful gusts was different than most conditions I have paddled in.

I was paddling along the lee shore (think I got that right - the shore toward which the wind was blowing) to take advantage of maximum fetch (practicing strokes in the higher winds was the reason for the outing).One thing I noticed, that I have not noticed before was the gusts arrived in the tree tops before they hit me at water level.

I guess it makes sense, as the wind speed should be greater with elevation, but I don’t recall noticing such an “early warning system” in the past. Any thoughts on why it would be so pronounced in today’s conditions.

I’ve seen that happen when we were
trapped by wind on an island in Quetico. In evening, when I expected the high winds to die, I saw clots of cloud scudding from the west, at right angles to the wind at ground level. Shortly after the west wind came down to ground level, and I began wondering what would happen if a pine blew down on our tent.

lee = protected
Not sure you got the term “lee” correct. Lee means the side protected, so the lee side of a lake would be the side where the wind came from (so that the trees or buffs would provide some protection from the wind).

Looks like a new level of connecting
with nature for you, Jbead.

Depending on the wind conditions and your surrounding physical geography, it’s common to see the gusts of wind, and even changes in direction by noting what is going on with the branches and leaves of the trees. This becomes a life sustaining skill when you are flying something low level, like a helicopter or ultralight plane, because it alerts you to what the wind is doing around you. As you learn to read it, it gives you a heads up in time to prepare. For example, when you see the lighter undersides of the leaves turning up, you can bet you are looking at 15 knot or greater winds in the trees.

Watching the water around you gives you similar information. You may be paddling over calm water, yet the water up ahead darkens (no more reflection coming from it) in swirling patterns and shows “cats paws” as it becomes disturbed with approaching wind gusts, allowing you to adjust your paddling/bracing accordingly.

With increased awareness, we become more and more at one with Nature every time we paddle . . . ain’t it great?!!

cats paws
Towards the end of summer last year, a friend and I intentionally started going out on windy days. He’s a much more experienced paddler than I… we’d be paddling along and he’d warn me that gusts were coming. Being that there was nothing around, I asked him how he knew. He told me about the cats paws.

From that point on, I realized how much wind you could really see.

yeah, but . . .
I thought that when paddling on the protected side of a body of water you were in the lee of the windward shore; and vice versa in my situation yesterday. So the leeward shore would actually be the one receiving the wind. Confirmation anyone?

JBead is correct
The lee shore is the shore onto which the wind is blowing. It is relative to your boat. The lee shore is the shore on the lee side of your boat. See:

However, if you are in the lee of an island you are on the sheltered side. I can be a bit confusing.

When the leaves turn over…
the sh**storm is coming.

lee and windward …

– Last Updated: Feb-12-09 10:07 PM EST –

..... a man was once asked , "which way is the wind blowing today" ?? ... he answered "same as usual , right towards me" .

It has always been my understanding that the lee is the "dowind" side of an obsticle , and the windward is the "upwind" side ... so if the wind comes from across the lake to the opposite shore , and you are there , you are on the windward side (of that shore) . If you are on the other side , you should be in the lee of that (other side) shore cover ... the opposite sides of the lake having different shores represent two different obsticles , so two diffferent postions of two different obsticles for the paddler to be in .

For what it's worth , it's might be better to describe as upwind or downwind of something , like a shore .

ps., ... what if you are in the middle of the lake/river , are you in the lee or the windward , lol ...

We’ve found that when the wind is
blowing obliquely as a headwind, pushing us in toward the shore, that when we get close in to the bank and the trees, there is often a zone where the wind is quite a bit softer, and we can make progress.

As for lee shores, though the wind is blowing away from the shore, the wind often turns back under like water does when shooting over a ledge, so that the lee shore may not be a particularly comfortable place after all.

I suppose we could call them the Grant shore and the Lee shore.

them are the
’little’ ones, the cat’s paws.

I paddle in the Columbia Gorge when it howls and have come up with animal names for the wave shape/whitecaps that form.

under 10 knots- mice

10-15- cats paws

15-20- cats

20-30- dogs

30-40- sheep

40-60- cows or Grizzleys

hurricane- Elephants

the duration of the white in whitecap gives you a clue to ‘period’.

at 30 the water surface begins to leave in quarter to fifty cent piece sizes. at 40 you start getting mist at 50 it’s like fog on the surface.

these are for low fetch, locally generated winds in a confined gorge. open seas may vary considerably.