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Wind Direction Helps Us Know What The Winds Will Carry In

Weather Talk

POSTED: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:14pm

UPDATED: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 12:16pm

The Borderland saw dust from the northeast yesterday; we will see more dust from the west Friday and maybe enough moisture from

Our weather really depends on the strength and direction of the winds here in the Borderland. Yesterday we saw dust carried in from the Texas Panhandle mixed in with some gypsum dust from White Sands by a cold front. A bit of a temperature inversion, warmer air above colder air has trapped in this dusty haze for the past 36 hours. This haze will blow out with a southwesterly wind shift this afternoon. The entire region is under a drought and is in desperate need for some good, soaking rains! As a result, any decent weather system will have the ability to kick up and carry in some dust until we hit our monsoon season at the end of June beginning of July. Even then the dust will become airborne from down draft, outflow winds from dying thunderstorms. In today’s “Weather Talk” let’s look at what is usually carried in by winds from all of the specific wind directions.

First let us take a look at our prominent wind directions, the west and southwest. This is the normal zonal, westerly to easterly flow of air. This flow of air brings warmer (or hotter depending on the time of year), drier air which helps increase our temperatures and keep us mostly sunny. The Sonora Desert and Chihuahua Desert, of which we are a part of, really help with the much warmer and drier air transport. When there are weather systems or disturbances tracking from the west to northwest, they will increase our westerly winds. This time of year, our “windy season”, these winds carry in dust from southwestern New Mexico and even southeastern Arizona. These westerly winds our the most common winds that kick up and carry in our dust from February through the start of May every year.  Read my "Weather Talk"  Are you Ready for “Another One Bites the Dust?” .

Sometimes weste to southwesterly winds will be produced by a strong enough weather disturbance or system to carry in moisture from the Pacific or the Baja of Mexico. We love when that somewhat rare occurrence happens here in the desert! Even better is when a slow moving former hurricane or tropical storm moves in from the west- southwest bringing us two to three days of slow to steady rainfall!

Speaking of moisture being carried in, let us take a look at the easterly and southerly winds. Mainly during the Borderland’s “monsoon season” we see east to southeasterly winds carrying in abundant Gulf of Mexico humid air! This air is lifted by the daytime heat, mountains and weather systems to help form thunderstorms. These storms and showers give us a majority of our yearly  total rainfall from June 15th through the end of September. We can also add southerly lower and upper level winds into the “carrying in moisture” group. The southerly winds carry in moisture that comes all the way from the Caribbean Sea over Mexico into the Borderland. We will also get a third source of moisture with upper level winds carrying in moisture from the Pacific and the Baja from the southwest during our monsoon season.

Northerly winds usually carry in cooler or colder air into our region. Cold fronts or upper waves will bring with them colder or cooler air helping to drop our temperatures. Cold fronts during the winter typically back in from the northeast and easterly directions. If the air mass is not deep enough we will only catch the edge of the colder air. Usually deep, Arctic air will dive in directly from the north brining in bitterly, icy cold air with their northerly winds. Those arctic fronts will make for the coldest temperatures of the year and usually happen from late December through early February. Cold fronts and upper level troughs or waves will sweep in from the west to northwest as well and typically these air masses are not as cold and mainly just “cool fronts" during the warmer times of year. The winter cold fronts will sometimes carry in enough moisture for snow, most of the time another system from the west has to meet the cold air with some moisture for the Borderland to see snowfall.

Winds from the northeast can also carry in dust from White sands, eastern New Mexico and as far as the West Texas Panhandle like we saw yesterday. When the region has not seen any rain, mainly cold front can kick up and sweep in this dusty haze. The haze tends to be lighter or whiter thanks to the white gypsum from White Sands National Monument.

Now you have gotten a glimpse at what kind of kind of weather and other stuff the winds can carry into the Borderland. Taking in count the time of year and the finding out the wind directions will give you a heads up on what to expect weather wise, when to wear a jacket, bring you rain gear, hold off on watering your yard,  whether you should hold off on washing your car, when you will need to sweep and dust your house and when you need to start taking your allergy medications.

Chuck DeBroder, Chief Meteorologist
KTSM, NewsChannel 9, NBC, El Paso, TX Chuck DeBroder NC9 @wxchuckNC9

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