Mother Nature On Another Tear
Blowing Snow, Limited Visibility and High Winds
by Dave Bell
February 10, 2011
A regular headline on the National Weather Service forecast web site this winter--Winter Weather Advisory for High Winds, Blowing Snow and Limited Visibility.
Another day and another major wind event! This winter it seems to occur several times each week. Is this year different than any other? And, why, has it seemingly been so windy?
"Its the northwest flow", according to Chris Jones, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Riverton. "This year has been different than last year when most of the flow was from the southwest". "And, remember, last year, it was dry with very little snow, and probably warmer than the average", according to Jones.
The "flow" means the continued movement of the wind from a relative constant direction. And this year, it is from the northwest direction. "That means", said Jones, "with the Pinedale proximity to the mountains, and our normal air movement drainage, we have an enhanced flow against the mountains", causing the wind to really howl at times. "It is similiar to a venturi effect and is driven by the terrain."
On Thursday, February 10, the maximum recorded wind speed occured at 1:50PM at the airport at 44 miles per hour. But, our wind is nothing to other parts of the state on a day like today.
Jones reported, "the normal wind prone areas are really lit up today. Rock Springs averaged 40 MPH for several hours earlier today, and Arlington had two hours of constant average wind speed of 45 gusting to 62 MPH."
That should make us all feel better as we begin to plow our driveways again.
As far as the next several days, "the wind is expected to continue as the northwest flow will remain the prevailing weather factor" according to Jones. "We are having an active pattern from the northwest this year, and that flow has been very predominant, and until the weekend it will continue."
Jones continued, "by Saturday we will begin to see a low pressure system beginning to affect the west coast and as it does it will bend the northwest flow to the west and then the southwest which will shut-off the active wind speeds."
The good news, according to Jones, is the temperatures are more moderate when the wind is blowing, as it mixes out the valley inversions and warms the atmosphere.
For now, keep those snowshovels and plows handy.