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Richland Airport
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Richland is one of the TriCities, on the Columbia River in eastern Washington. The three towns comprise a very nice small city (300,000) with great amenities and water everywhere but lousy sailing.<p>
Summer is dead -- as in wakeboard heaven -- but spring and fall can bring wind. However, the riverbed geometry, prevailing wind directions, and natural and urban terrain combine to produce very gusty winds, usually with the current or sometimes directly across the river. Occasional south winds against the strong southerly current in the northern fringes of the TriCities can generate decent slalom conditions or even rare good bump and jump conditions.<p>
The beneficiaries are the few but growing handful of locals who 1) have the equipment to sail light to moderate winds (most locals sail only sinkers because the Gorge starts as close as 30 minutes away); 2) have neither the time, the pride, nor the brains to drive further (can you tell one of them wrote this?); 3) are desperate; and 4) are packed and ready to go on a moment's notice. Most of the park sees offshore winds and/or downwind currents 98% of the time it blows. That's where real time iWindsurf data help considerably, because decent sailing in the TriCities is rare and fleeting, and occurs only with strong winds out of the south, about 180 to 190 degrees. <p>
Nice public parks line much of the Columbia in the TriCities, so if you're stuck there and the wind comes up, get a city map, follow your nose to a shoreline with an acceptable wind direction, and don't forget the generally southeasterly current will be strong in the main channel. Launch sites include most of the Richland waterfront, which is one big, long, nice, public, free, groomed park for miles. Pasco has two long
shoreline public parks across the river from Richland, but its winds are side-on with the current. Experts might be able to stay upwind in unusually steady wind, but otherwise significant hikes are likely because the wind is so holey. At least in northern Richland, those rare south winds oppose the current and the hike is on groomed park grass.
But until and unless a new sensor gets installed near the river in north Richland, we just have to drive down there and look, as Pasco's wind means little in Richland.
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 Season: If anything, late Fall towards evening 
 Water: Flat to thigh high; strong current 
 Ability Level: Expert; miss jibes and away you go 
 Wetsuit: Usually steamer time 
 Familiness: Excellent: city parks 
 Parking: Paved 
 Launch: Grass, gravel or rocks 

Data from this station is courtesy of the Hanford Meteorological Station.

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