Wind gusts

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Wind gusts

Postby llholmes1948 » Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:25 am

I understand that the eastbound Amtrak Empire Builder train was delayed west of East Glacier for several hours yesterday due to high wind gusts of about 90 mph at East Glacier and was unable to pass until the wind subsided.

This causes me to wonder if there is any correlation between wind gusts at East Glacier and other areas of the Park. If the wind is gusting this much at East Glacier, is it likely to be higher at Dawson Pass or Siyeh Pass (not that I would care to go there under those conditions to find out)?

I understand that several years ago, one of these high gusts came along as Jen was leaving the Whistlestop at East Glacier and blew away several of her thoughts before she could complete them. I heard that her thoughts were found in Havre and the people who found them were very confused about them.

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Re: Wind gusts

Postby Pocketlint » Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:15 pm

Hi Lyman:

There may be a correlation of some kind, but maybe not the type you're thinking of.
This is my thinking on it based on my long time amateur interest in weather.

The worst high winds(East to West) through the East Glacier area and Marias Pass are typically caused by very large, deep, intense cold air masses that slide down the Rocky Mountain front from Alberta.
"Air" is a fluid. And the colder the air, the denser and heavier it will be...and hence it "slides" along the surface of the terrain.
IF, this cold dense air is "deep" enough, as in the recent powerful cold air mass, then it spills over the Continental Divide through the lowest "gaps"--the passes.
Think of it like a river flowing down the Eastern Rocky Mountain front. As the river of air rises(the cold air mass intensifies and deepens)...it "spills" over through the low points first, the passes.
The lowest passes, in this case Marias pass, will typically have the higher winds because the pressure driving the air will be the greatest....as the large deep cold air mass along the front drives/forces the air through those low points.
Marias Pass and the Middle Fork drainage, the path of the railroad, are the lowest points in this region....and as a consequence that area frequently gets those high winds....and they get them first.
IF the cold air mass is deep enough, then it will eventually come through the higher passes.
This is why Logan gets such high winds at times, it being relatively low compared to Dawson or Siyeh.
This same principle is at work in the Hungry Horse/Columbia Falls area. The wind just "howls" through Badrock Canyon when we get a big enough cold front on the East side. Badrock Canyon is the "outlet", if you will, into the Flathead Valley.
Wind can be absolutely ferocious in Columbia Falls and the Kalipsell Airport area too... as it spills into the NE corner of the Flathead Valley from Badrock Canyon.... but next to nothing here in Whitefish.

I hope this makes some sense to you and others.
I love weather stuff :mrgreen:

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Re: Wind gusts

Postby Ear Mountain » Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:30 pm

There's more to the wind speed than just the analogy of a fluid flowing down from the mountains. The mountains can influence the up and down waves in the jet stream. The highest winds on the Rocky Mountain Front are often the result of the jet stream coming down near the ground. Many locations last February experienced winds up to 140 mph. Winds that day on mountain passes may have been high but probably were not that high.

Winds off the front this past week topped out at 58 mph, at least that was the highest wind speed recorded on my anemometer.

Winds coming from the SW are funneled down valleys that are oriented just right and this increases the speed in some locations. East Glacier is favored for very high winds as is the valley just west of Browning and south of US 2. Amtrak trains are halted when winds exceed 70 mph and this happens frequently in those locations. There are wind fences along the RR tracks in those locations to prevent trains from being blown off the tracks.
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Re: Wind gusts

Postby Pocketlint » Thu Nov 24, 2011 12:53 pm

Hi Ralph:

You are correct. There's a LOT more to the causes of wind in that area.
I was referring specifically to the East to West winds caused by Artic masses coming South along the front.
The Jet stream moves generally West to East causing the high winds you described....and is frequently from the SW as you described causing problems for the East Glacier area.
That's my take on it anyhow :)
And we get some of our worst snowstorms here on the West side when those two things happen together:
A powerful SW jet colliding with very cold Eastery "spillover" air from Artic air headed South along the front

pocketlint :wink:
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Re: Wind gusts

Postby flatlander » Sat Nov 26, 2011 3:22 pm

I understand that several years ago, one of these high gusts came along as Jen was leaving the Whistlestop at East Glacier and blew away several of her thoughts before she could complete them. I heard that her thoughts were found in Havre and the people who found them were very confused about them.

Lyman


Sweet!
While I liked Pocketlint and Ear Mountain's expanations of the high winds, Lyman's comment put a big :D on my face!
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Re: Wind gusts

Postby llholmes1948 » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:44 pm

flatlander wrote:
I understand that several years ago, one of these high gusts came along as Jen was leaving the Whistlestop at East Glacier and blew away several of her thoughts before she could complete them. I heard that her thoughts were found in Havre and the people who found them were very confused about them.

Lyman


Sweet!
While I liked Pocketlint and Ear Mountain's expanations of the high winds, Lyman's comment put a big :D on my face!


Glad you enjoyed that (and thanks to Pete and Ralph for their information on this.)

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Re: Wind gusts

Postby poky5mom » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:05 am

So possibly Jen does need to keep rocks in her pack to keep her thoughts from blowing away! :D
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Re: Wind gusts

Postby Pocketlint » Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:27 pm

poky5mom wrote:So possibly Jen does need to keep rocks in her pack to keep her thoughts from blowing away! :D
Kim


Mighty right if she'd been at Logan Pass Thursday morning.
Sustained winds over 60mph and gusted to 119mph :shock:
So said an InterLake article this morning.

pocketlint :wink:
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