We could see the storm on the horizon. We would have to be quick to finish the billboard before it hit us. Typically a board took us 30 minutes. We figured the high winds reported on the radio in the neighboring county were still 20-25 minutes away. One last board and we would go home like always during high wind conditions. We could make it!
The storm was on us in 12 minutes. Wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour were powerful enough to blow over semi-trucks. We also knew we were sitting atop the worst billboards for exposure to wind, at Utah’s Point of the Mountain, where hang-gliders can catch a great up-draft. Wind bursts funneled around the canyons.
The sky turned dark grey. The rain pelted harder. I had just finished throwing in the second sidebar. The wind whipped the billboard flex upward, puffing it up like a sail. It pulled my grip out and scraped my forearm along the outer corner, gashing me. I held on tighter and pulled it in and wedged it back around the board. My partner worked his way to the last angle iron and attempted to catch the other end of my pole flapping wickedly against wood, metal, and anything else that dared to get in the path. He yelled, asking if I had a good hold of it. We could barely hear each other. Finally he managed to grab hold of his part. Then I set my hook and ratcheted it in place. We pulled off the clamps and racketed the top and bottom. By then the full force of the winds were pushing on us from every different direction. It’s wrath nearly paralyzed us. We cautiously traversed the ladder down to safety and gave each other a high five for a job well done.