Wind Record Set In N.C. Mountains, Some Damage Reported
Posted January 25, 2006 4:19 a.m. EST
LINVILLE, N.C. — Wind gusts set new records in North Carolina early Wednesday and caused some damage to the visitor's center at
Winds gusted to at least 200 mph early Wednesday morning at the U.S. Weather Service reporting station atop Grandfather Mountain, breaking the record for the highest wind ever at the mountain of 195.5 mph set on April 18, 1997.
Officials at Grandfather Mountain said the upper limit on their anemometer is 200 mph, but the needle on the gauge went beyond its limit, leading weather observers to speculate that the wind speeds exceeded 200 mph. The highest wind speed ever recorded in the Eastern U.S. was 231 mph at Mount Washington, N.H. on April 12, 1934.
Grandfather Mountain's summit visitors center suffered extensive damage when the wind blew out three double-strength, steel-wire-reinforced windows, ripped up floor tiles, blew open a locked door; tore a wooden mantel off a wall and upended a 300-pound boulder that was cemented into the parking area.
Metal frames from two of the windows were also ripped from the wall and found more than 200 yards away.
The Mile High Swinging Bridge appears to have survived the windstorm without damage, officials said. The bridge is anchored by two large cables and stabilized by 42 support cables.