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Weather Wise: Strong Montana Winds

Weather Wise: Strong Montana Winds
Posted at 6:35 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-30 12:53:38-04

HELENA — Montana experiences a lot of wind and is home to some of the windiest locations in the country. Livingston, Great Falls, Browning, and the Rocky Mountain Front are home to some of the strongest wind in the nation.

The windiest locations in the country are east of the Rockies out across the high plains, from the Canadian border down to Mexico. As a state, Montana is high on the list, but not likely in the top five windiest states.

The wind is simply air in motion. Air moves from high pressure to low pressure. The bigger the difference between high and low pressure, the faster the air will move. The change in pressure over distance is called a pressure gradient. When pressure changes rapidly over a small distance, the stronger the wind will be.

Recently a strong low pressure moved just to the north of Montana. A large high pressure preceded and another large high pressure is following this storm.

The mountains also contribute to wind. As high pressure pushes air into the state, the wind accelerates down the east slopes of the mountains like a bowling ball gaining momentum rolling down a slope.

Montana typically sees its strongest wind storms when powerful low pressures track to the north of the state, with high pressure to the south or west. This positioning maximizes the downsloping from the mountains, creating the greatest gusts.