Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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12/04/2003: "Taku Winds"

One of the paintings I'm going to do in my next series about things i love and hate, will be titled Taku Winds. These are defined as:

Taku Wind: A strong, gusty, east-northeast wind, occurring in the vicinity of Juneau, Alaska, between October and March. At the mouth of the Taku River, after which it is named, it sometimes attains hurricane force. (from

I had no idea when I bought this house almost two years ago that it fell in the direct firing line of some of the most intense winds I've ever experienced. One neighbor warned me to look out for the "cherry blossoms", what Douglas locals call the pink fiberglass insulation that gets blown up into the trees from these winds when it takes your siding off.

Before I moved into the neighborhood the Douglas Public Library which sits accross the street from me, had its roof blown off. My house actually shakes, including my desk and the computer I'm typing on. They are so loud that they can keep me up all night long.

Last winter "The wind lifted four 10,000-pound freight containers (10,000-pounds each) from a docked barge, breaking chains that held them down, and dumped them in Gastineau Channel. The containers eventually beached on Douglas Island." (from the Juneau Empire - January 23, 2003 )

My house seems to be in a wind tunnel receiving the direct impact of these winds. They blew away my barbque pit and tore off my metal mailbox from its post last winter. Those winds lasted for over a week.

"It seemed to be a brief episode of the highest winds downtown and in Douglas on Tuesday," said meteorologist Paul Shannon. The peak of 62 mph came at 6 a.m. today in Douglas. Taku winds are known to blow in excess of 100 mph, with wind storms lasting several days." (from the Juneau Empire -November 28, 2001 )

Tonight, out at work at the university which is in the valley, there were relatively no winds at all, and as soon as I got to Douglas Island the winds were so strong I could barely keep my truck on the road. I had to struggle to force my driver's side door open. I'm constantly terrified that it's going to blow in my living room or kitchen windows.

They are scary and noisey and totally stress me out. I just hope I can come up with an image that can convey the depth of my loathing for them.