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No. 43: Jan-Feb 1986

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Underground Weather

Most residents of central Oregon can tell you tales about winds blowing out of the ground, about roaring and whistling sounds emanating from their wells, and of mysterious holes in the winter snow on Mount Bachelor. Central Oregon is geologically young and plastered with lava flows and cinder cones. It is like a sponge, with many cubic miles of holes, air channels, and open fissures. The air in this rocky sponge is usually on the move in response to changes in atmospheric pressure. The earth absorbs air during barometric highs and expels it during lows. In some spots the expelled air is captured to cool homes during the summer. In the High Cascades, though, the underground winds pose hazards to skiers by creating blowholes in the snow.

These blowholes are actually mildly anomalous because they blow out a gentle 40F breeze regardless of the barometric pressure. Some of Oregon's blowing caves also "breath" without re gard to barometric pressure. Also, the water wells north of Fort Rock Basin often blow for days during periods of high barometric pressure -- times when they should be taking air in.

(Chitwood, Larry; "Central Oregon's Underground World Filled with Wind That Roars, Whistles," The Oregonian, Octo ber 3l, 1985. Cr. R. Byrd)

Comment. See category GHG2, in Earthquakes, Tides, Unidentified Sounds, for material on blowing wells, etc. This catalog volume is described here.

From Science Frontiers #43, JAN-FEB 1986. 1986-2000 William R. Corliss