During the late summer of 1985 a field experiment was conducted to investigate mountaintop winds over a broad area of the Rocky Mountains extending from south central Wyoming through northern New Mexico. The principal motivation for this experiment was to further investigate an unexpectedly strong and potentially important wind cycle observed at mountaintop in north central Colorado during August 1984. These winds frequently exhibited nocturnal maxima of 20 to 30 m · s−1 from southeasterly directions and often persisted for eight to ten hours. It appears that these winds originate as outflow from intense mesoscale convective systems that form daily over highland areas along the Continental Divide. However, details of the spatial extent and variability of these winds could not be determined from “routine” regional weather data that are mostly collected in valleys. Although synoptic conditions during much of the 1985 experiment period did not favor diurnally recurring convection over the study area, sufficient data were obtained to verify the regional-scale organization of strong convective outflow at mountaintop elevations. In addition, the usefulness and feasibility of a mountain-peak weather-data network for routine synoptic analysis is demonstrated.

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Footnotes

1 Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

2 Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87544.