Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hatu Winds and Blowing Dust

We've gone from a morning canyon wind event to an afternoon with screaming southerly winds.  I always wanted to call these strong southerlies the "Intermountain Scirocco" as they bear many similarities to the Scirocco winds of North Africa, but Mark Eubank once told me he called them the Hatu winds for Utah spelled backwards.  Hatu it is...

First, let's have a look at some of the winds out there.  At 0018 UTC 16 May, several stations in the west desert and over the Great Salt Lake are reporting gusts in excess of 50 mph.

0018 UTC 16 May MesoWest surface plot.
Wind gusts in mph annotated.
Grassey Knolls along I-80 just west of the Cedar Mountains had a peak gust earlier today of 66 miles per hour.  Not exactly fun for high profile vehicles.

The nearby UDOT traffic camera shows dusty conditions too.

Where is this dust coming from?  Well, a lot of it appears to be coming from three point sources in southern Utah, as evident in this enhanced MODIS image.

Source: NRL
I suspect the biggest offender is the Sevier Lake bed, which has played a role in Salt Lake dust storms in the past.  Thus far today, the flow has been southerly and the dust plume has been west of Salt Lake, but that's changing now as the flow is veering to southwesterly and the Oquirrhs have just disappeared.  I suspect we'll be seeing dust in the Salt Lake Valley soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment