Why are some places in Colorado always so windy?

· Mar. 10, 2023, 11:54 am
211215-WIND-GOLDEN-BOULDER-93211215-WIND-GOLDEN-BOULDER-93Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A sign warns motorists of high winds and hazardous travel on Hwy. 93 near Rocky Flats on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

There’s a longstanding saying in Colorado: If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and it will change. But there’s one consistent weather pattern that prompted a listener question to Colorado Wonders.

Marlene Sassaman, who lives in Huerfano County, asked: “What causes the consistent high winds in the southern Front Range, south of Pueblo, and West of Walsenburg in Navajo Ranch along Hwy 160?”

We called up Denver7 Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson for some insight.

He says the wind events in Huerfano County are very similar to the consistent high winds along Highway 93 in Boulder County.

‘“The mountains are right there and the air can’t go through them. It’s got to go around them and through the canyons,” Nelson said.

He compares the phenomenon to the wind blowing between tall buildings in downtown Denver.

“It’s called the Venturi Effect. You’re squeezing all that air in between those tall buildings and it gets very windy,” he said. “We’re squeezing all that air in between the mountain peaks and through the canyons.” 

The process creates a drop in wind pressure as it moves through a more confined space, which produces higher speed.

Nelson says the phenomenon is the reason the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Wind Center is located along Highway 93. 

“It’s not because they necessarily have the most wind all the time, but they get extreme winds coming through there, and they can stress-test those big wind turbines for really strong winds.”

Another example of the Venturi Effect is when you place your thumb at the end of a garden hose which builds pressure to create a stronger stream of water.

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