Daily independent weather forecasts for the Kansas City area

Monday, March 28, 2005

Downslope warming?

After a beautiful Easter Sunday, we're in the middle of a HUGE warm-up. The dramatic warm-up is brought to us in small part by downsloping Chinook winds. Chinook winds are winds that blow off the Rockies and follow the elevation gradient as they move east. As the air sinks in elevation, the air warms at a rate of 9.8 degrees Celsius/kilometer. So, if it is 56 degrees in Denver, by the time it gets to Salina it is 80 degrees! See my cheap diagram below…

Chinook Winds in Kansas

The elevation change between Salina and Kansas City is only about 300 feet, so the minor warming changes we would see from the change in elevation are usually dissipated due to other things going on in the atmosphere. However, when we see west and southwesterly winds, the air that was warmed by the change in elevation to our west gets pushed into Kansas City. We notice these changes the most during the spring and fall when drier air in place. Dry air warms much faster than humid air. With dewpoints in the 30s, today certainly counts as one of those dry days.

Air also warms when it is compressed by the movement of air masses. As a cold front heads toward the area on Tuesday, we will likely benefit on the warm side from compressional heating as well!

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