WeatherWeather Science


Colorado Springs sees the most high wind days in late Fall and early Spring

Larry Marr Pikes Peak blowing snow 3.23.2022.jpg
Posted at 3:24 PM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 09:23:38-04

The criteria for a High Wind Warning to be issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Pueblo are as follows:

Plains: wind 40 mph or greater for an hour and/or gusts of 58 mph or greater for any duration

Mountains: wind 50 mph or greater for an hour and/or gusts of 75 mph or greater for any duration

Since 2005, NWS Pueblo has issued High Wind Warnings 169 times. Of those days, 96 of them included the city of Colorado Springs.

For both Colorado Springs proper and the region in which NWS Pueblo covers, April and December tie for the most high wind warning days.

Coming in a close 2nd place is November. After that, January, February, and March follow closely behind. Glaringly absent are July, August, and September.

Why does Colorado get so windy?

Both terrain and latitude play into why we see high winds in Colorado. We have mountains of course. And as wind is forced downhill it will accelerate, just like a ball rolling down a hill. The Colorado Front Range drops thousands of feet in elevation over tens of miles. That steep drop allows westerly winds to tumble down the mountains, gusting in excess of 100 mph.

Our latitude, about 40° N, is in the mid-latitudes where the polar jet stream often moves through. The jet stream supplies momentum to the atmosphere. It transports storm systems and its strong winds can filter to the surface. But during the summer, the polar jet often stays locked into place near the pole. As the North American continent warms and cools with seasons, the jet stream will migrate from its summer position at the pole to its winter position in the mid-latitudes. During the Fall, Winter, and Spring is when the jet stream is often over Colorado.

Colorado can experience both Chinook winds and Bora winds. Chinook winds are the downslope winds that often come from the west. As air is forced downhill the pressure increases. That compression will warm the air and dry it out. Chinook winds are often called "snow-eaters" for this reason.

Bora winds are cold winds that come from Canadian or Arctic cold fronts from the north. These will generally bring weaker winds than a Chinook pattern, but they will be more widespread.


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