Here’s a typical North Devon scene. Not the blue sky (especially today). No. The twisty lane with barely room for a car to pass a tractor, the hedgerows atop Devon banks and the aerofoil shaped tree.
The aerofoil shaped tree. Why is the tree shaped so? Is it a sign of age? An Olde English variety that grows so crooked? Is the camera holder perched on an odd angle?
Of course not. The simple reason is the wind.
North Devon’s landscape is dominated by cliffs, sand dunes and not so gently rolling hills, often called downs.
Those hills can be quite high. The tree pictured here is at over 150 metres (around 500 feet).
Therefore, the hills are exposed.
Geography plays another big part. Bideford (or Barnstaple) Bay lies barely 5 kilometres (nearly 3 miles) to the north-west. To the west, more sea is about 20 km distant. That bit of water just about qualifies as the Atlantic Ocean. And, there’s nothing but open water from Hartland Point to Newfoundland.
The meteorology is greatly affected by the geography. Often, like right now, we get the full force of the jet stream. We’re usually the first part of the UK to get Atlantic winter storms. Devon (and Cornwall) takes the edge of these beasts so the rest of the country doesn’t have to suffer too much.
This is a doosy of an Atlantic storm. I saw 955mb mentioned. That’s a very deep depression. With such systems you get a steep pressure gradient. Pressure gradient of the magnitude we are seeing means strong winds.
I would estimate that sustained winds are still in the region of 30 mph (excuse the mixing of imperial and metric) with gusts upwards of 50 mph.
Luckily, we are used to it. Or should I say resigned to living in an area with wind velocities that often reach these strengths.
And, that’s why the trees are shaped that way. And, that’s why I fear my onion protection may have blown away.