Wind power gets bent out of shape in Wyoming

Trent Brome writes on his Facebook page:

Arlington, WY – avg annual wind speed of 31mph, gusts above 110mph, seems like a great place for a wind turbine ….right?

Photos from Feb 1, 2011 as the cold air mass that formed Snowzilla barreled through. The wind chill in the area from yesterday was extreme, -54F !!

0453 AM     EXTR WIND CHILL  PUMPKIN VINE            41.05N 105.46W

02/01/2011  M-54.00 F        ALBANY             WY   DEPT OF HIGHWAYS

A new record low was set in Cheyenne:



523 PM MST TUE FEB 01 2011




Combine cold temperatures that make steel brittle along with gusty winds, and you have a Titanic recipe for disaster. For those that will argue that I’m being unfair to the promise of wind power, I welcome you to provide photos of any power plant in the USA that has been collapsed due to weather. Downed power poles sure, but power sources?

h/t to Eric Nielsen for the photo


UPDATE: While the Facebook page source of these photos shows them dated yesterday, Feb 1st, it appears the event actually happened November 25th. A similar photo here:

The same author, Trent Brome, submitted them. It is unfortunate he did not make note of the correct date on his facebook page, and given a strong storm had just passed, I had no reason to expect otherwise. I apologize for not checking further. Thanks to V Marti for pointing out the other website link above. – Anthony


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It looks like “Ivory Tower” meets “Real World Data” in a snow storm
apologies to Bambi and Godzilla!!


I suppose a hydroelectric rig could be down due to weather; drought – caused by global warming of course.

Might should take a look at this, this wind turbine collapse is probably not going to be the last.
Press Release 1-2011 NASA Data Confirms Solar Hibernation and Climate Change to Cold Era
Also see (google up) ssrcresearchreport1-2010.doc
Degree of correlation for global volcanic activity (>80.6%) and for the largest USA earthquakes (100% of the top 7 most powerful) vs solar activity lows…
Last 350 years 1650-2009 for global volcanic activity and 300 years 1700-2009 for seismic (earthquake activity)
ssrcresearchreport1-2010.doc I haven’t been able to capture a link with Droidx.

Phillip Bratby

This happens all the time, see

Scottish Sceptic

These are also fun!


My ignorance,
What is a Record “Low High”? does it mean biggest (high) in magnitude for the Lowest temperature of the day?

A good collection of structural failures is available here:

Malaga View

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he’d punch a hole in a fan
No one could make that ram scram
He kept buttin’ that fan
‘Cause he had hi-i-igh hopes, he had hi-i-igh hopes
He had high apple pi-i-ie-in-the-sk-y-y hopes
So, any time your feelin’ bad,
‘Stead of feelin’ sad,
Just remember those fans
Oops, there goes those kilowatt fans
Oops, there goes those kilowatt fans
Oops, there goes those kilowatt fans


Following on; Sorry, worked it out.
The Warmest temperature for the day was -9c. So this was the lowest ‘Maximum’ temperature recorded. Apologies to All.

Patrick Davis

Just for the record, the Titanic was made with poor quality steel rivets with significant quantities of impurites which, in the very cold north Atlantic, “opened” like a zipper. The sheet hull plates were made from a different grade of steel. Like not having enough life rafts and davits, the cost saving using the cheaper rivet was the priority for the builder.
Wonder what grade of steel was used in that tower, looks a bit thin at the base to me. But a classic example of too much wind. It’s usually the turbine and/or blades which fail first, but this is a classic fail!


How much solar power did they generate with panels under 2+ feet of snow?

William Gray

This is the poster of the collapse of CAWG


A(nother) new record LOW temperature AND a downed wind turbine in one story. The one causing the other.
This is pure denialist porn !

Wayne Delbeke

Shock and awe. /Sarc off. To be expected. Subsidized low cost products designed with an ideal environment in mind. In reality they need power inflow for heaters to keep this from happening which means that often wind turbines are net users of power instead of net producers – at least in Europe. What to you wanna bet they get a grant to study what went wrong and at least a couple of expense paid trips to Europe to see how it is done there?

Greg Holmes

Greetings, this is a shame , I am a great fan of these machines, I have 28 + on my doorstep in the UK and they are quite something upclose. There is however a nagging doubt in my mind that it is so difficult to get a handle on the efficiency of the “spinners” as I call them. I know that the wind does not blow every day, but I see figures bandied about of 20% EFFICIENCY EVEN WHEN CONDITIONS ARE PERFECT. Presumably there is a department in Government which is collating this sort of information but trying to find a cogent report without the attendant sub agenda is a trial. I think they are here to stay, I just do not want to keep paying tax money out to make them seem plausible.


In case someone missed this classic video of an exploding windmill:


Not in the USA and not recently but at least 4 cooling towers have collapsed in the UK due to wind and a design flaw. 3 towers at a powerstation called Ferry Bridge (1965) and the fourth at a sister station Fiddlers Ferry (1984). Other parts of power stations blow up from time to time but they’re mostly fixable/replaceable.
That asside, both powerstations are still up and running (years after their decommissioning dates), the same will not be true of windmills. The biggest thing against windmills is the poor performance, unreliability of supply and the ones at sea will be a maintenance nightmare.

Mike McMillan

I know the feeling. I’ll add those two snapshots to my collection of wind turbine glamour shots.

Ed Zuiderwijk

The green movement clearly could do with some Viagra ….

That is a very expensive problem. If the conditions were right for one tower to fail then it is likely that more than one collapsed. I have been unable to find any additional news about this particular incident.
Solar is also very effective in a snowzilla storm like that. Gee.. I wonder what type of power would be effective for a long time and work even in bad weather…

Brian Johnson uk

Wind chill is really only relevant to living things that expire water through their skin, however it warms my heart to see those brittle/steely useless towers doing a Titanic.
David Cameron please note; wind power is not of any use, except to assuage the Green Hysterics and your pal Zak. Spend the money on Thorium energy generation. Do it – Now!


Met my neighbour on Monday, told him of the weather being wet and windy inc gales for next few days, his reply ‘Loads of extra work for me then’ , which as he maintains the local Wind turbines that have been marooned since the start of Nov does not make much sense.

Peter Miller

Also, it doesn’t look like a very good place for solar panels.
Somewhere around -20 degrees C, steel begins losing its tensile strength. As the temperature drops further, it becomes increasingly brittle – mining companies in the far north learned about this fact the hard way a long time ago.
One solution is to use stainless steel, which is much more temperature resistant – the problem here is that it costs several times the amount of ordinary steel.
Green energy solutions are always very expensive and/or unreliable.

a jones

Yes well. Umm err. Quite.
Not perhaps the finest engineering. And who is paying for the loss?
Insured no doubt so who payed the premiums? and what was the rate percent?
And can anybody get any answers? as regards the cash that is?
Somehow I doubt it. And whose responsibility was it anyway?
I think we should be told.
We won’t be of course.
Kindest Regards


Right, for those that live in the bit of the world that uses sane systems of units, that’s an average of about 13.5m/s, gusts to 50m/s, a record low of -22C and a wind chill of -47C.
The extreme cold is indeed likely to be the culprit. On very little evidence, it looks like a weld failure around the top of the tower door, always a weak point in a tower structure. Not the first time a tower has collapsed due to weld failures in cold weather.
There are basically three questions to ask: Was the temperature range specified in the tower requirements appropriate for the site? Was the tower design appropriate for that temperature range? Was the tower manufactured in accordance with the design? The answer to at least one of these questions is ‘No’.
Painting this as a general problem with wind power is frankly pretty childish. That it is a problem is self-evident, but if you’re going to throw out wind power because a turbine fell over due to (likely) a manufacturing problem then you should also throw out nuclear power because there have been radiation leaks. I know which I’d rather live near! But of course we don’t throw out either; we learn from our mistakes. At least with wind the cleanup is quick and cheap.

Nigel S

Looks like a ductile rather than brittle failure of the tower. Maybe the windmill froze and didn’t feather so that loads exceeeded the design limit. The tower seems to have failed at 90 degrees to the axis of the shaft with the blades at 90 degrees to the wind. Maybe some oscillation involved too. Guess that door didn’t help either.

John Marshall

Oh for the reliability of coal or oil!

Baa Humbug

Some panel beating and a bit of pollyfilla and she’l be right mate.


Score at half-time:
Birds 1
Wind Turbines – god only knows how many
I used to be a great believer in “alternative energy” until these monstrosities began appearing, spoiling the view in in many of my favourite “wild places” here in the UK. It never struck me (as they do our avian wildlife) then just what a blight they are. I hate the damned things. I think I’ll use the second pic for my PC desktop. It gives me a little comfort and great satsifaction.
We have Red Kites ( here in the southern Chiltern Hills, and I can see at least one over the valley here most days, soaring effortlessly. I’m not a “greenie”, but I’d hate to think of even one of these magnificent birds being shredded in the name of unreliable “renewable energy”.


The second – iconic pic for WUWT stuff?


I would have thought that if you are constructing a steel structure which is subject to dynamic loads and where the temperatures are very low the structure should be subject to frost protection measures?
The modes of failure for repetitive loads can be due to fatigue and where temperatures are low due to brittle fracture.
In the Uk we have standing comittee on strutural failure this is one for them and if you have a similar organisation in the US please can someone notify them.


Wind Turbine suffers “erectile dysfunction”

Most wind turbines go into neutral and stop generating at wind speeds above 35 mph, which means they’re probably non-productive for a large percentage of the time…
I can’t wait to see the Blair Windfarms in the North Sea looking like this, or better yet, the ones defacing the Scottish Hills and the Welsh Mountains…

Layne Blanchard

Wizzy new Pius Hybrid – 28 Thousand Dollars
Wizzy new windmill, with local utility contract of 14 cents/Kilowatt-hr to pay for it – 250 Thousand dollars
Finding your new investment in a heap of twisted frozen metal? – … yep. Priceless.

R. de Haan

At least the windmill didn’t get air born. I love it.
Nature doesn’t like wind power.


Every time I drive by a rotating wind turbine just off the local interstate, I am struck again by how unsafe it looks. What happens if the axle cracks or a blade breaks off in a strong wind? Nothing good …


Clearly these conditions werent engineered for, but the failure of one wind turbine adds nothing to the debate about GW in the same way the Chernobyl nuclear plant failure doesnt.


Would be interesting to know how many turbines have collapsed or shed blades in recent years.

Tom Harley

Wind power, hahahahaha…hahahaha, sorry, couldn’t help myself

R Lawrence

‘Record daily low high’ –
Stress-testing the language?

Jeroen B.

Mother Nature hates horizon pollution and has an icy cold way of dealing with it 😉

R. de Haan

I wonder how the Australian wind farms are going to cope with 300 km per hour winds. A constant wind won’t pose a problem. The big gusts typical of a cold front passage do the work.


-54F eh? Just think how cold it would have been without global warming…


Oh – I LOVE that picture..!!

CPT. Charles

One more nail in the coffin…

Harold Pierce Jr

Please send copies of the photos to Joe “Rantin’ Joe” Romm c/o CAP in Washington, DC!


And the cost to build that was?

Will Nelson

Yeah but, I hear those unanticipated and excessive deliveries of coal can shut a plant right down.

Lew Skannen

Hey! Give credit where it is due!
Considering how brittle steel is at that temperature I think that the tower folded up quite well.


I suppose sildenafil citrate is out of the question, for resurrecting these derelict assemblages