One does not need to live in Flagstaff for long to know that it gets windy, especially in the springtime. But why does this area seem to feel it more than others? First, let’s examine what wind is: the mostly horizontal movement of air. This movement occurs as a mass of air moving from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure.
The differences in air pressure are created by varying amounts of heat on the globe. Near the equator, where sunlight reaches the Earth more directly, the heat rises and is replaced by cooler air from the north and south. Winds are also modified by the Earth’s rotation (Gaughan 2019).
With that in mind, note that spring is a particularly windy season, which makes sense because it is a transitional time of year. A time where temperatures drastically fluctuate, creating a lot of air movement. As jet streams from the northwest reach Northern Arizona, the difference in pressure creates powerful winds (Jones 2020).
Lastly, another reason is due to the topography of Northern Arizona which is situated near a large volcanic mountain range. The San Francisco Peaks often accelerate winds. When the horizontal flow of air encounters the mountains, it is forced up and over, deflected downward by the stable air above (Jones 2020). This deflection increases the momentum of air so locations downwind from the mountain experience the wind at much higher magnitudes. Be prepared for some windy weather and tune in to learn more about our monsoon season.
Jones, T. (2020, February 11). Why Northern Arizona's Springtime Winds are So Strong. Retrieved June 25, 2020, from https://explorethecanyon.com/why-northern-arizonas-springtime-winds-are-so-strong/
Gaughan, R. (2019, March 02). How Solar Energy Affects the Earth's Atmosphere. Retrieved June 25, 2020, from https://sciencing.com/solar-energy-affects-earths-atmosphere-22463.html
Written by Kelly Randazzo