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Weather Talk: It has been windier than usual lately in the F-M area

It has been very windy lately. Since Nov. 28, there have been seven days with wind gusts greater than 40 mph. Five of those were greater than 50 mph. The strongest measured gust was Wednesday morning, Dec. 13, at 63 mph. Wind speed is a product of two forces: the pressure gradient force and friction. Lately, the upper-level wind has been flowing north to south mostly right over our heads (some 34,000 feet up), sending us a steady barrage of low-pressure systems in the lower atmosphere. These little lows have been causing rapid changes in air pressure, leading to frequent windy days. The north-to-south oriented upper-level wind has often been blowing well over 100 mph, creating a positive drag force, and increasing the surface wind when from the north and particularly the peak gusts as upper level wind has mixed down to the ground in the turbulent eddies. Ask the pilots. It has been very windy up where planes fly as well.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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