Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why are weather conditions so different across town?

Another "Ask Mike" question today. "Why are weather conditions so different from one side of Colorado Springs to the other? It can be warm at Fort Carson and freezing near Peterson Field, or vice versa. What's going on?"

GREAT question, and there are a few factors at work. The first one is that if the air is moving uphill, it cools and is more likely to form clouds. If it's moving downhill, it tends to be warmer and drier. That's true whether it's moving from north to south (Monument to Pueblo) or from Broadmoor Bluffs to Peterson AFB (west to east).

The other factor is elevation. Cold air sinks, and tends to pool in the lower elevations, so we can have days with cold temperatures and lingering low clouds/fog at the lowest elevations, while a quick trip to the west on Highway 24 (to higher elevations up Ute Pass) will quickly bring you back into the world of mild temperatures and sunshine.

Combine those basic principles with the great variety of terrain we have in southern Colorado, we can have situations where snowfall totals vary widely from block to block, and a drive from one side of town to the other is like traveling to a different state.

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