First Alert Weather In-Depth: The seasonal winds of change

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – We are talking about the “winds of change” blowing though Western New York. But if you follow the weather, you know there is a big difference between wind speeds in the winter compared to the winds in the summer. Why the difference?

The winter season can have massive weather systems that cover hundreds and even thousands of miles. And these high and low pressure systems are much stronger and create a much larger pressure gradient that will drive the higher wind speeds. During the summer season we do not have these large scale weather systems. So, with the exception of thunderstorms, the wind has to be created in some other manner.

Wind in the summer really comes down to the difference between day and night. Let’s begin with winds located at 15,000 feet in the atmosphere and those speeds are much faster than at the surface. In order to reach those winds, we get help from the sun. In this example, the summer sunshine heats the surface of the Earth and surface heating sends little parcels of air that begin to rise, almost like a hot air balloon. That air then mixes with those higher wind speeds in the upper atmosphere and the higher wind speeds are now driven down to the surface of the Earth. Naturally, as the sun goes down, the heating comes to an end and the mixing will also come to an end. As a result, from day to night, wind speeds will go up and then go down over a 24 hour period.

As we transition to the autumn and winter season. I cannot wait to experience those heightened gusts of 30 to 40 mph. I know you are too!