This paper investigates the diurnal evolution of thermally driven plain–mountain winds, up- and down-valley winds, up- and downslope winds, and land–lake breezes for summer fair weather conditions in four regions of the Intermountain West where dense wind networks have been operated. Because of the diverse topography in these regions, the results are expected to be broadly representative of thermally driven wind climates in the Intermountain West. The regions include the Wasatch Front Valleys of northern Utah, the Snake River Plain of Idaho, the southern Nevada basin and range province, and central Arizona. The analysis examines wind characteristics, including the regularity of the winds and interactions of the four types of thermally driven winds, using meteorological data from the University of Utah's MesoWest network.
In general, on fair weather days, winds in all four regions exhibit a consistent direction from day to day at a given hour. A measure of this wind consistency is defined. The nighttime hours exhibit a generally higher consistency than the daytime hours. Lower consistency during the day–night and night–day transition periods reflects day-to-day variations in the timing of wind system reversals. Thermally driven circulations are similar in the four regions, but the Wasatch Front Valleys are influenced by lake breezes from the adjacent Great Salt Lake, the Snake River Plain is influenced by along-plain circulations and localized outflow from the Central Idaho Mountains, and winds in both southern Nevada and central Arizona are influenced by plain–mountain circulations associated with regional-scale contrasts in elevation and surface heating.
NOAA/Cooperative Institute for Regional Prediction and Department of Meteorology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington