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Pat Shingleton: "Thermals and Surfing..."

2 years 3 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, June 06 2018 Jun 6, 2018 June 06, 2018 9:00 AM June 06, 2018 in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton:

"Thermals" are sections of air, heated by the sun, that ride from the ground to heights of 40,000 feet. Once a glider pilot locks into a thermal they call it "soaring."  They may also interact with a "wave" which is common in the western states.  This rare phenomenon occurs when a layer of compressed air slides over the Sierras, and bumps across the Mojave desert. This is about the only place in the United States where these waves occur and provides glider pilots with a real treat.  In 1986 the world record for glider altitude was captured near California City at a height of 49,000 feet.  The Federal Aviation Administration has placed a cap on glider heights at 18,000 feet, unless there is special permission from the FAA. Even though the principles are the same, folks were flying gliders before the Wright Brothers and in the United States there are 39,000 hooks sail planers with glider ratings. Finally, five days into Hurricane Season 2018 and a "rewind" to the effects of Tropical Storm Allison that caused $5 billion in damage and became a real treat for surfers on the Texas coast.  Allison's landfall created extraordinary large and well-shaped waves along the upper and middle Texas coast.  Winds offshore spun along the coast and met a strong swell radiating east across the open gulf.  A continual north-northwest wind flattened the storm's tidal surge blowing straight into the approaching waves.  This wind sculpted waves that resembled waves with Pacific coast quality.  During the morning of June 5, 2001, Buoy Station 42035, located 22 miles east of Galveston recorded six-foot seas. At 2:00 P.M. the same station reported 12-foot seas. The best surf in several years occurred that afternoon inside the Freeport Ship Channel jetties, 60 miles south of Houston.  As word got out, the outbound lanes of Texas Highway 288 were packed with inbound surfers.

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