A Wild Windy Weekend
by Angela Schilling, Meteorologist
November 05, 2011 9:11 PM
Right now the jet stream is split with a trough in the west and a ridge to the east, with our winds coming straight up the middle of the two…out of the south. When you have a strong area of low pressure next to a strong ridge, your winds tend to be quite strong. The image to your left is a water vapor image showing the actual set up, while the image below is captured from a model at around 300mb, or way up in the atmosphere...both show the general concept. Notice the green on the water vapor image which represents moisture. An area of low pressure found in Colorado is expected to make its way north and east over the next 24 hours bringing light rain/snow showers to portions of Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. We could see a few flurries as far as east as Mobridge, but more rainfall than snow is expected along and east of the Missouri River. In the southeast we'll probably make it through the weekend dry with just a ton of wind to deal with. The image below is from the GFS model and shows the jet stream, with a high to our east and an upper level low to our west. You can think of an upper level low as a cold pocket of air. As we move into Sunday you can expect the image below to look the same, except everything will be shifted a little bit farther east.
Winds can play a huge role with not just the overall pleasantness of the day but also the temperature. Wind direction is just as important as the speed itself. On Friday our winds were coming out of the south at around 15 to 25 miles per hour. The first image below shows some of the peak wind gusts throughout the afternoon, with Winner topping the list.
Overnight lows were a good ten degrees warmer on Saturday compared to Friday, primarily due to the strength of the winds as well as their direction. Strong winds tend to keep temperatures up at night, while calm winds allow temperatures to drop. On Friday morning our winds were in the teens, while they were in the 20’s on Saturday. Since we started out a good ten degrees warmer on Saturday, highs were also a little bit higher, with many locations making it into the upper 50’s and lower 60’s…despite the abundance of cloud cover. The images below show several line graphs, each showing peak wind gusts and go through Saturday around 7pm.
Sunday fortunately doesn’t look to be nearly as windy as the rest of the weekend turned out to be, but still breezy at times especially for the first half. By noon on Sunday the cold front will be well to our east and our winds will be coming out of the west, ushering in some cooler air. By Sunday evening our winds will be much lighter, making it feel much more comfortable outside.