Just a quick update tonight … the National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for much of the Colorado Northern Front Range Mountains and Foothills. Winds of 25 to 40 mph with gusts up to 85 mph are expected through about 11 AM Sunday Morning.
Checking local observations at 9 PM Saturday evening, winds are blowing from the northwest at 42 mph with gusts to 53 mph at the top of Parsenn Bowl at the Winter Park Ski Resort (12060 feet). Elsewhere, winds right now are lighter. Interestingly enough, here at our home east of Nederland, the winds have been gusting to 40 mph over the past hour which makes me think that the mountain wave has set up such that the strongest winds are break over the Front Range Foothills at little east of the Peak to Peak Highway.
These winds are in response to an amplifying upper-level wind pattern over the Western United States. A trough digging into the Northern Plains is pushing the jet stream southward towards the Central Rockies. A tightening thermal gradient between colder air pushing into the Northern United States and much warmer air to the south is also helping to enhance the winds. The mid-levels of the atmosphere are also relatively stable meaning that not much kinetic wind energy is being lost due to turbulent or convective mixing.
Colder air will begin to push into northern Colorado on Sunday afternoon, and this should put a damper on the strong winds. Here is an atmospheric cross section stretching from about Laramie, Wyoming, southward through Nederland into northern New Mexico for Sunday afternoon. Notice the core of strong jet stream winds over northern Colorado as well as the cold front pushing southward across the state:
Exactly where the mountain wave sets up tonight will determine who sees the strongest winds in the Front Range Foothills and the adjacent plains.
We are still on track for colder temperatures and even the possibility of some snow later in the week:
Weather Underground says:
And DarkSky says:
Note that DarkSky is often 5 degrees too warm with its temperatures, particularly the daytime highs.
Batten down the hatches. The Chinooks will be howling tonight and Sunday morning!