Document Type


Publication Date

January 2008

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology



Issue Number





daytime downslope, phenomenon, great basin, Downslope winds, Mountain meteorology


Atmospheric Sciences | Climate | Meteorology


This paper investigates the formation mechanisms for a local wind phenomenon known as Washoe Zephyr that occurs frequently in the lee of the Sierra Nevada. Unlike the typical thermally driven slope flows with upslope wind during daytime and downslope at night, the Washoe Zephyr winds blow down the lee slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the afternoon against the local pressure gradient. Long-term hourly surface wind data from several stations on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and rawinsonde sounding data in the region are analyzed and numerical simulations are performed to test the suggested hypotheses on the formation mechanisms for this interesting phenomenon. The results from surface and upper-air climate data analyses and numerical modeling indicate that the Washoe Zephyr is primarily a result of a regional-scale pressure gradient that develops because of asymmetric heating of the atmosphere between the western side of the Sierra Nevada and the elevated, semiarid central Nevada and Great Basin on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The frequent influence of the Pacific high on California in the summer season helps to enhance this pressure gradient and therefore strengthen the flow. Westerly synoptic-scale winds over the Sierra Nevada and the associated downward momentum transfer are not necessary for its development, but strong westerly winds aloft work in concert with the regional-scale pressure gradient to produce the strongest Washoe Zephyr events. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] . Copyright of Journal of Applied Meteorology & Climatology is the property of American Meteorological Society and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.).


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This article was published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, volume 47, issue 1, 2008 and can be found at the following link:
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