Sunday, August 3, 2014

Wildflowers, Monsoon Surges, and the Tour of Utah

The high country is simply spectacular right now with wildflowers everywhere you look.

Grizzly Gulch
Devil's Castle from Mt. Wolverine
Albion Basin
It was very comfortable in the high country today thanks to the high clouds.  I did, however, observe an east wind on the ridge tops, which is a harbinger of things to come and a sign of an approaching monsoon trough that will bring widespread showers and thunderstorms to the state today and tomorrow.

That's good news for the wildflowers, but the weather could potentially wreak havoc on the Tour of Utah, which kicks off tomorrow at 10:35 am with a circuit beginning and ending in Cedar City and traversing the high terrain of Brianhead and Cedar Breaks.

Source: Tour of Utah
During the stage, the monsoon trough will be centered near the Nevada–California boarder with a healthy slug of moisture and instability over Nevada and Western Utah.

There is a dry slot penetrating into southeast Utah and if that's shifted a bit westward, it could save the day.  However, if the latest forecasts hold, then showers and thunderstorms are likely to impact the stage, with possible heavy rain and gusty winds.  At least temperatures will be cooler than average.

Road racers tend to plow forward through just about anything, but lightning is a real hazard for the riders.  Both the Tour of Utah and the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado are held in August when monsoon thunderstorms are common, so this is an issue affecting both stage races.  It's also an issue for the Tour de France (thunder was reported at the finish of several stages while they were in progress, but I'm not sure if there was any in the vicinity of the peloton at the time).  Stages have been rerouted or racing put on hold in situations where road conditions are very poor (e.g., snow), but I wonder how thunderstorms and lightning are handled.  

No comments:

Post a Comment