Part 2: The Winds of Georgian Bay

Part One of this article appeared on November 29th


Now let’s see why the wind behaves as it does. To begin with we should realize that wind consists of gases, simply because our atmosphere is composed of about 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen and 1% other gases. Due to different heating factors the warmer gases always move upward, with the cooler gases moving down into the vacant spaces. And there we have it:: Wind!

But the movements of the atmospheric gases are not always gentle like a light cool breeze after a hot day, or vice-versa. Weather is a major influence on their heating, and the hotter it is, the faster the gases move. And then we have high winds!

Our body’s gases behave in much the same way, although their components are different from the atmosphere and consist primarily of Hydrogen and, for some people, Methane. These gases move around by the body heat and usually find their way out at the point of least resistance. Hydrogen Sulfide, a colourless gas with the characteristic smell of rotten eggs, which is also present in our bodies in small amounts, gives rise to the bad odour of our “wind incidents”.

Many high windstorms are unpredictable until they happen. We may have had predictions by the Weather Women (or Men) and a high wind warning, but that is a “maybe yes, maybe no” situation which we have all experienced many times.

Then there are the geotropic Jet Streams in the Stratosphere. They form near the edges of air masses of different temperatures and humidity, blowing at speeds up to 400 kph and have low turbulence, which is why Jet Pilots prefer to fly at that height (about 8 to 14km above the earth’s surface). Jet Streams (actually there is one in each of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres). always move West to East, assisted by the earth rotation and the uneven heating by the sun.

As a result, airplanes travel faster flying west to east (with a “tailwind”) than they travel east to west (with a “headwind”). That’s where “Flight Delays” originate. Delays may, however, also be caused by other problems, like mechanical failures or airport congestions.

“Hurricanes” are huge spiralling storms that form in the Tropics, which spiral counter-clockwise. In the northern Indian Ocean they are known as “Cyclones”. In the western Pacific Ocean as “Typhoons”. They are caused by a high-pressure area circulating around a low-pressure area. Meteorologists name the storms in alphabetical order with alternate female and male names.

The only Hurricane ever to hit Ontario as an “extratropical storm” was Hurricane “Hazel” on October 16th, 1954, which caused the deaths of 81 people, vast flooding, and between CAD 20 and CAD 100 Million damages (equalling about CAD 1 Billion today). The effects of tropical hurricanes frequently hit the Maritimes and the western shores of Canada. Their economic Impact is never negligible, and the residents have always exhibited remarkable recoveries.

In recent years there have been several small projects in Ontario to utilize the power of the wind for driving wind turbines, producing electrical power for immediate use. Immediate, because there is no way to store large amounts of electricity. Energy produced by Wind Power Generating Stations (Farms) must be fed directly into the provincial power grid. There are 46 larger Wind Power Farms in Canada, with several dozen towers each, and 170 small ones with about a dozen towers each (Source: Wikipedia List).

The only wind turbine project on the Georgian Bay is the 87-unit Henley Inlet Wind Power Farm at the French River, which was completed in September 2021 and is half-owned by the Henvey Inlet First Nation. It calls itself “the largest in North America”, but the United States have several incredibly larger Wind Farms.


Written by

Peter Iden is a resident of Wasaga Beach and a Naturalist and Photographer who has a broad range of knowledge of the natural world. Peter is also a volunteer Warden for the Piping Plover Recovery Programme with the Friends of Nancy Island.


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