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Local Winds



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I am a powered paraglider pilot. I live in Layton. I notice that the winds are much stronger in SL county 90% of the time. It seems everytime I am driving north the windspeed dies down to nothing in the farmington area 90% of the time. The Kaysville/Layton area almost have no wind most of the time even if winds are 10-15 mph just a few miles south. Is this due to Weber Canyon? I know the rising terrian near there will do it depending on wind direction. I tend to be at the bottom of this hill but it doesn't explain the very calm conditions there most of the time. Any insights into this? Thank you. Just curious.

Steve S. **********************************************************

Good stuff, and again an awesome time to talk about the lake. We discussed the lake breeze in a previous question recently so if you aren't familiar with what a lake breeze is, you can go ahead and click on the link on the right to the previous question and then come back here and it will be all review from there.

You are totally right on with your observation that the wind speed in the afternoon would be lower in the Kaysville area versus SLC in the afternoon.

What happens during a typical day is we kick up the lake breeze in the afternoon. This is happening because the land is warmer than the lake as the day proceeds. A circulation is created and the lake breeze is born. If we remember how wind moves we must remember one basic thing: as wind moves through a more narrow area, it will increase in speed. This happens with canyon winds, cold air sinks down the canyons which are narrow and the wind comes rushing out of the bottom.

The lake breeze increases in speed as the opening is narrowed. Pull up the wasatch front mesonet map link on the right it will give you a great map of Wasatch Front and the GSL. When the lake breeze kicks up, the wind in SLC shifts to the north. You can pull up a myriad of observations here by clicking on the city you want, you can even look at graphs of the wind speed. The wind comes off the lake and is funneled between the Wasatch Mountains and the Oquirrh Mountains in SLC. This speeds it up here, it's moving through a narrower area. Where is the fastest lake breeze? The hang gliders who hang out at Point of the Mountain (around Draper) are a good visual of where the breeze really gets moving. The narrow point at Point of the Mountain is where the fastest winds will go each afternoon.

Look at where Farmington is, the wind is coming directly off the lake and into Farmington or Kaysville or Layton. It's not moving through any narrow openings at all and is just a lighter breeze. This is why the wind speed will be lighter there vs. a point to the south. It is doesn't have to do with Weber canyon or elevation in the afternoon.

But, if you want to hang out at mouth of Weber Canyon early in the morning, you will have gustier winds than SLC. We aren't at the base of one individual canyon, the city is spread out a little more. If you were standing at the base of Parley's in the East Millcreek area, there are canyon winds all the time. Now, if you are at the mouth of Weber Canyon on a cold morning the winds should gust. As the cold air sinks at night it rushes down the canyon and gets gusty at the base. But in the afternoon, the circulation reverses and you get a lake breeze instead of a canyon wind.

Answered by KSL Meteorologists Dina Freedman and Dan Pope.

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