Wind Tunnel Phenomena while paddling.

The wind tunnel phenomena while paddling can be both fasinating, concerning, and frustrating.

It can occur on rivers, lakes and bays where geography and topography can funnel the winds.

In river canyons, gorges and deep river valleys it can seem like your always against a head wind, even though the clouds high above are moving in a different direction.  I think anyone who has paddled has dealt with this kind of tunnel effect.

In this instance it occured on La Cloche Lake at the outlet to Georgian Bay in La Cloche Prov. Park

Even for day trips I always get a marine forecast just to be prepared in case weather is supposed to  change.

This happened to me once before while I was paddling Playtar Harbour in Pukaskwa National park.  This bay is more like a fjord, it is long and narrow and you can not see Lake Superior from the end of it.  The forecast when I set of from Hattie cove was for little if any wind.  I paddled up the creek to where the Coastal trail crosses.  In the short time it took me to get back to the bay, the wind had picked up and there were white caps.  Since it is still a good paddle back to Hattie Cove with a tricky pass of a rocky point at the mouth of the Bay.  By the time I got to the lake there was no wind on the lake, but I could look down the harbour and see the wind whipping up the narrow bay.  It is just another way Superior lives up to the legends and myths.

The forecast for the day we decided to paddle La Cloche lake was for strong winds out of the North West in the morning and slowly diminshing around noon and very light for the afternoon.  We left just after 11 am with this in mind. It is about an hour and a half easy paddle to the outlet bay of the lake and this was the wind conditons going in, small choppy whitecaps , but oh so beautiful!



We spent a couple of hours exploring the old Fort site and the three water falls on the Georgian Bay side.

La cloche 0017

In this video below you can see the iniviual gusts coming in, it does not show the whitecaps in the centre very well.Even though we had binoculars we did not need them to see there were no whitecaps on the lake so we knew we had a natural phenomena happening with the winds. La Cloche Lake is actually a fairly large lake and winds could make this a tough lake to cross.

The bonus for the strong winds was it made lunch quite nice by keeping the hordes of mosquitoes at bay that had harrassed us walking the trail


Our route out.  We were in the bottom left corner of the bay and we paddled out along with the exiting current on the left side of the canyon.  The outgoing current in this instance was easy to see becasue of the white foam bubbles that formed from the waves breaking on shore.  The more we paddled towards the lake, the easier the wind got.

La Cloche wind tunnel

Once we were in the open lake about 100m from shore, these are the conditions we had. So from small white caps and moderately strong winds to a very gentle breeze


It is always neat to experience a resonably gentle  natural phenomena where no hard choices are needed to be made. It also shows you why this lake is worth a few more visits, especially when the fall colours arrive.

At the 52 second mark of this one you will see the canyon betwwen the ridge lines that helps form the wind tunnel effect.  The hills are over 100 metres (300′) above the lake.

1 thought on “Wind Tunnel Phenomena while paddling.

  1. I’ve definitely run into this Wind Tunnel phenomena ….. We seem to get a head wind on the way AND the way out on EVERY trip lol.


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