The Winds Are Made Stronger By Our Area Mountains
Mountains Help Produce Powerful, Damaging Winds
Friday, December 13th, 2013 — There is a weak "Backdoor" cold front, as we call it, pushing into the Borderland from the northeast Saturday. When this happens the winds push over the area mountains from an easterly direction and are stronger on the western slopes.
The Franklin Mountains divide the city of El Paso. When a system tracks in from the east or northeast the air is pushed up and over the mountain range. As the air or winds travel down the slope on the west side, the winds increases in strength and speed.
I like to explain the wind speed enhancement effect of the mountains with this metaphor in my weather speeches.
Imagine a giant ball on top of the mountain. If you push it down one side or the other, What happens as it travels down hill? Of course the ball increases its speed, going faster and faster until it hits the a flatter surface. The same sort of physics are involved with wind.
During our windy season ( the end of February through sometimes mid May) the weather systems primarily come from the west. The westerly winds from these weather features, hit the Franklin Mountains and travel up an over. A 20 to 25 mph wind on the west side, increases to 30 to 40 mph with peak gusts 50 + mph in Northeast, North Central and East El Paso.
The strongest wind gusts ever recorded at El Paso International Airport was out of the west at 84 mph on March 10th, 1977 and again on March 26th, 2010.
I shall explain more weather enhancement effect of our Area Mountain Ranges in Future "Weather Talk" Blog posts
(Photo: Chuck DeBroder-KTSM)