Friday, December 02, 2011

Windy West, Snowy Midwest

Strong winds have been whipping through much of the West over the past couple of days, brought to them by the interaction between a pair of upper level lows that have spun up over the Southwest US deserts and high pressure that is building over the Great Basin.  That interaction between the high to the north of the low and low pressure itself is causing these winds to whip up.  You can see how the winds were modeled out earlier this week on NOAA's website.  The first of these wind events impacted a number of states out west over the past three days, bringing wind gusts to over 100 mph on the highest of elevations in two states and causing quite a bit of damage in the Los Angeles basin on Wednesday night and early Thursday.

The LA Times reported earlier today that over 370,000 were without power at the height of the wind event in  the Los Angeles Basin, with Pasadena particularly hard hit from the first round on Wednesday into Thursday.  A second round of Santa Ana winds developed today and will continue into Saturday.  While this second event is not expected to be as bad the Wednesday night and Thursday's, the gusty winds will likely delay if not exacerbate cleanup efforts.

Centerville, UT, experienced a wind gust of 102 mph and Utah has seen a fair amount of damage as well.

These upper level systems will help spawn a storm system in the Southern Plains, which will push northeast into the Midwest for the end of the weekend.  This developing storm will continue its assault but on a wintry level as snow should work northeast along the developing storm system.  Winter Storm Watches and Warnings are out from Wisconsin southwest to New Mexico through early Sunday.