Monday, February 07, 2011

There she blows!

When you live out here on the arable fen you get used to the odd bit of wind. What happens every now and then (maybe once or twice a year) is that those winds continue solid for a few days, desiccating the soil surface of the surrounding fields and then just when you think the wind cant get any stronger, it does, and 'lifts' the soil off the fields - that's a fen blow.

Here's a view from my desk across the fen.

And here's the same view with a fen blow in full swing this afternoon.

Fen blows are not to be sniffed at. When you are in that dust cloud visibility is down to zero. And they cause real damage. In really bad ones the winds can push fields like dunes and fill in dry dykes running alongside the fields, get blown across roads - even closing them. In the worse case they can kill. A few years back a women suffocated in her car when she got stuck in a blow.

During the worse fen blow here, the ultra fine soil was pushed through any minute gap, vents, key holes - any gap - and filled the house with dust. At the end of the day it was so thick it covered everything to a depth that I couldn't read the letters on my keyboard or a magazine cover on my desk! I cleaned everywhere - for three hours. Them went to bed. And when I got up in the morning, it was the same again - the air has still been thick with dust which continued to settle overnight.