Explaining High Wind Events Across The Central U.S.

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From Kansas to Indiana 8-9 seperate days of wind gusts exceeding 40 mph have occurred since February 1st. Included are wind gusts exceeding 70 mph (in non-tornado events). A much stronger than normal jet stream is contibuting to this regime which continues into April.

A Pattern of Damaging Wind Gusts from Kansas to Indiana

Discussion: Since early February the U.S. has observed many high wind events. The Kansas to Indiana stretch since Feb. 1 have experienced 8-9 days in which max wind gusts >40 mph have occurred (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Daily maximum wind gust Feb. 1 to Mar. 15 for Dodge City, Kansas City, Chicago and Indianapolis.

Stronger than normal jet stream speeds during the past 6 weeks (Fig. 2-3) have caused the extreme wind regime. The stronger than normal jet stream wind is attributed by very strong global atmospheric angular momentum (Fig.4).

Fig. 2: The jet stream core wind speed has averaged a whopping 185 mph across the Northeast U.S. since Feb. 1, 2019.

Fig. 3: The jet stream wind speed has averaged 35-65 mph higher than normal California to New England since Feb. 1, 2019.

Fig. 4: During the strong El Nino events of the 1980’s research by climate scientists identified the heat release from anomalous convection in the equatorial region pole ward caused increased thermal gradient in the upper atmosphere in the middle latitudes causing the jet stream to move more rapidly. A similar dynamic has emerged the past 6 weeks as the atmosphere has transitioned into an El Nino climate. Other factors such as an unusually strong high level polar vortex in the far northern latitudes have also contributed to the strong jet stream pattern (and the periodic reflection of high wind aloft across ground locations in the U.S.).