We have been outdoors when the westerly winds blow across Big Sky Country. Thunderstorms can come out of nowhere and ruin everyone’s day.
A few years ago, I was guiding a couple down the Yellowstone River. Takeout was at Pine Creek, and I was just below the DePuy’s Spring creek outlet. The Montana wind began to blow upriver! There were literally white caps on the water. Despite my strongest rowing efforts, in the moving water, I could not make the drift boat travel downstream. The wind also made fishing virtually impossible.
As a kid, I remember watching the Wonderful World of Sports. Joe Brooks, an outstanding fly fisherman and caster, was demonstrating how to cast into the wind on the Yellowstone River. I swear it was in the same spot. He managed some low, powerful casts, but he did not catch any fish.
I had to walk the drift boat downstream with my clients riding in the boat. I earned that day’s tip.
Wind can be dangerous. When the Montana Winds begin to blow, consider these. ￼
CAMPING Consider where the campsite is located. Look for potential deadfalls, overhead branches, or blowing debris areas. Always have a water bucket by the fire. Heavy wind can blow embers and start fires. Check to see if tent and tarp stakes are secure. Having large springs on the tarps and tents will help the ropes absorb the wind and not fail. Trailer awnings need to be retracted. Consider prevailing winds when you set up camp.
FISHING Consider that wind often comes during storms. Lightening, hail, and downpours can create dangers. Large hail can injure. High water can flood. Waves can swamp a boat or small craft. Fishing rods attract lightening.
HIKING Just being outdoors can be dangerous. When the wind comes up, trees sway, limbs fall, trees tumble over, and things become airborne. Locate a safe, protected space and wait for the wind to pass. Protect your eyes with glasses. Large rocks, depressions, ditches, and obstacles can provide out of the wind protection. Pipes, bridges, and thick cover can make for good places to protect yourself.
BOATING When afloat, you become a target on an open place. Lightening can strike, waves can swamp, and wind will force you where you don’t want to go. Turn the boat into the wind and power through the waves. Time your throttle or strokes to let you rest with them. If you have high canopies, make sure they are secure or take them down. Get to shore and seek shelter. If you are in an open area, flip the boat over and crawl under.
Weather and wind can happen everywhere. Have a plan to ride them out before heading out.