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Is It Getting Windier? Colorado Experts Say The Answer Isn't Easy Breezy

DENVER (CBS4) – High winds raked across the state Tuesday, forcing two ski areas, Loveland and Monarch, to close. In northern Colorado semi trucks were bowled over by the wind along Interstate 25.

Ask around and a lot of people will tell you they think it's getting windier.

"It's sort of a running joke in the weather and climate field is that everywhere you go, people think that it's getting windier over time," said Dr. Russ Schumacher, Colorado's State Climatologist and associate professor of atmospheric science at CSU.

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But, there's no proof. Partly because there just isn't enough data to show trends.

"Unfortunately wind is one of those variables that hasn't been tracked consistently over the years as temperature and precipitation we have records going back to the late 1800s in many places, but the wind records are not nearly as complete."

There is a demand says Schumacher for many different measurements while calculating wind.

"People want to know the average wind, the strongest wind of the day, all of those kinds of things so you have to be taking measurements very frequently which automated equipment now can do easily, but in the days before that came around in the 1990s, there's a lot fewer records out there."

A colleague did take a look, but couldn't find evidence.

"Found not much of a trend over that time period over the long run in terms of the average wind speeds, which again was only 20, 25 years of data which in the climate realm we want a lot longer record than that."

Schumacher notes some may point to climate change, but it's not clear what may be happening there either.

"There's plenty of reason to believe that winds will change as a result of climate change, but exactly what that looks like is I think a little bit uncertain."

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Winds may be faster, or slower. What he is certain about is that at this time of year, winds are greater in Colorado.

"As we transition from the winter into the spring the jet stream is very active, over the United States and we often get a really strong jet stream to come down over Colorado in the spring here kind of develop these strong low pressure systems in the great plains and behind those low pressure systems is often when we get the really strong winds."

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