Windy City Weather: Pros & Cons of the Winds - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Windy City Weather: Pros & Cons of the Winds

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The winds of Central Montana have many pros and cons.

We'll highlight both the negative impacts, andthe benefits.

Downsloping winds can have numerous negative impacts on Montanans.With an increase in wind, driving conditions and property damage are bothpossible. Chinooks, usually in a form of a westerly wind, bring dangerousconditions for driving, especially on north-south oriented roads, like I-15.

Westerly cross winds are dangerous to motorists because of the possiblelift force created as well as causing the vehicle to change direction oftravel.

The forces of cross winds are intense and dangerous.  Calculations show winds that top 40-50 mphcan hit the large surface of a semi-truck trailer with the force of thousandsof pounds.  That's enough to either movethe truck into another lane or tip it over entirely, especially if the load islight or non-existent in the truck. 

Stationary structures are also at risk when winds gusts above 50 mph (orwhatever we decide).  Materials,construction and location can all play a part in whether a structure canwithstand a strong wind gust. Unfortified buildings can be damaged or destroyed from regular windsthat aren't a part of a dangerous weather aspect like a tornado orhurricane.  Certain types of structures(barns, mobile homes, certain trees, sheds, etc.) are more at risk.

The dry, warm, Chinook winds bring a brief relief from Montana's harshwinter. Without Chinooks, snow would accumulate over Montana, flooding over theplains in the spring. The occurrence of dry winds throughout the wintermoderates the snow fall by evaporation or conversion into ice. The moderationin temperature and snowfall not only benefits Montanans, but also the cattle.The removal of snow provides winter grazing for livestock.

Theunique high winds of the region also have an economic benefit.  Montana has excellent wind resources. Wind farms,harnessing the wind to produce energy, provide an alternative to fuel. Windpower in the U.S. provides enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly9 million homes.

Whetherthey're bringing in warmer air, or causing difficult driving conditions, thewind of Central Montana is unique to the Region.

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