Not The Windiest Year — Yet
“Just about ripped my arms off,” said a man wrestling with several tarps ripped loose from Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids in Longmont.
Lawn furniture is being shared with the neighbors. Trash cans are on rolling, noisy tours. I still don’t know where the lid from the recycle bin went after the wind got cranking at my house a few months back. Day after day, it seems like we’re getting plastered by wind this year.
“I’m over it,” as one woman said — has become the mantra of the year.
The worst may soon be over — at least on average, according to Nolan Doesken, Colorado’s chief meteorologist.
“Late March through the end of April is the windiest time of year for the Front Range, not in terms of the strongest winds, those can occur in mid winter, but in terms of the persisting winds,” Doesken said.
We asked if this year we’ve set some kind of record. Nope.
So if you want to understand the winds over the past few months, you start with Part 1.
“In December, January and February, it was those high level jet stream (winds) high-tailing it across the mountains and every now and then, eroding down the Front Range and blasting winds down the Front Range,” Doesken said. “When we have snow cover on the Front Range, we tend to get stable cold air over the snow, the winds may still be howling at mountaintop level, but they tend to slide right over the top.”
But with a winter like we’ve just had, the lack of snow means warmer ground on the Front Range and more hot air rising.
“Warm air rises, cold air sinks, and the warmer the ground is and the colder it is aloft, the more mixing you tend to get in the atmosphere and it tends to bring the high level winds right down to the ground.”
The result is the howling winds we got sometimes during the colder months.
There are wind notches in Colorado where it comes barreling in over the Continental Divide, then down over the wide open spaces just east of the foothills.
“It’s not so much the notch in the Continental Divide as it is the elevated, it’s higher ground than the rest of the areas at the base of the Foothills.”
Those areas, like along Highway 93 north of Golden are also places where the distance to the Continental Divide is often less.
With the windy winter we had, this March and April’s winds seems only worse.
“Bin, bing, bing, steady,” Doesken said. He doesn’t like it either, but if you’re out in it regularly, you don’t have much choice. “And I love to bike to work and I hate wind.”