Windy Days Then and Now

Below is a shot of the masthead of The Poway Progress, a newspaper published in San Diego County from 1894 to 1897. As we deal with “red flag” wind periods this fall, it’s worth recalling that such conditions are endemic to our region, and to see what one such windy season was like 123 years ago.

The “Poway Points” column for the issue of January 4, 1896 included, along with its usual recitation of general community news and local gossip, this entry: “The churches were deserted on Sunday on account of the wind storm.”

Keep in mind this was a time when the Poway Valley was farm country, with most residents’ livelihood dependent on the crops they raised, both to feed their families and to sell at local markets or for export to neighboring communities by horse-drawn wagon or the emerging railroad lines. A combination of drought and high winds could mean farm families struggling to keep barns, sheds and homes from literally blowing away.

“All of Saturday night and Sunday morning the wind was on a tear from the north east, and was bent on mischief,” stated the column. “We have not heard how many people were up all night engaged in holding down their property, but evidently some were off duty, as at various points of the landscape could be seen on Sunday morning the results of its prank. Several barns and other outbuildings were overturned or scattered broadcast, and one windmill at least was considerably shattered…It is becoming quite dry and dusty hereabouts; a good rain would be very acceptable now, as farm work is at a dead stand still….”

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