Tennessee Tree Toppers

Sequatchie Skies
by Dan Shell
May 13, 1998

We expect a damp spell in the spring. After all, "April showers bring May flowers." This year, however, El Nino seems to have swung the pattern enough to keep us under clouds and rain more than our share. By my count, dry spells are running around two or three days. At that rate we only get a few hours of the desirable postfrontal conditions, and I think they're happening mostly at night. When will the spectacular springs return? Right now we're just emerging from the bottom end of an eleven year solar activity cycle which is known to affect weather on earth. Those effects aren't completely understood, but there's the suggestion that peaks in the cycle are accompanied by hotter, drier summers and perhaps even conditions more conducive to hang gliding. Another half decade or so should tell the tale.

The faithful few have found conditions conducive enough even in the midst of the monsoons. Mark Furst, Bill Colvin, and Fred Pearson flew last Tuesday (5/5). Mark and Bill reported maximum altitude gains of 3000 over in the generally light lift. This Monday (5/11) was a genuine good spring day. Steve and Kathy Lee were reporting max altitude gains of around 1600 over by 1:30. By 3:00 Phil Proctor was getting around 3000 over the plateau behind Cordell's. From there he started persuading others to go XC. It wasn't long before Kathy reported crossing the first gap south. It's good to have Dale McCartney back under a hang glider after a hiatus and he got back on the horse with style, taking advantage of the XC opportunity. They all seemed to be drifting comfortably down the valley, occasionally reaching cloudbase above 3000 over. Phil encountered clouds building near Powell's Crossroads. Dale apparently found the best lift off the ridge over East Valley Road as they moved farther down the valley. Kathy reached the last point before Marion County Airport and wondered if she could hit the field at Big Daddy's near Haletown. Phil assured her she had it on a glide. She was soon reporting position at Big Daddy's with a hundred or so to spare over the top working light lift. That was the last coherent thing I heard from any of them. They might have all slipped off into another dimension, or perhaps just Lookout Valley, which, come to think of it... Soon as I hear I'll let you know.

The forecast calls for the best chance of afternoon thunderstorms Wednesday. Northerly Thursday. NE to E by Friday. Southerly Saturday. Good convection all week with temp spreads just over 25 degrees. Lows in the mid 50s. Highs in the mid 80s. Maybe it's lookin' up. See you in the sky!