Garrett’s Blog: Winds Blast Area

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Strong low pressure pulled a cold front across the area today with strong winds to nearly 50mph reported across the area.

The wind occurred in response to a tight pressure gradient. Air flows from high to low pressure. Pressure is a function of thickness in the atmosphere; cold air is very dense and warm air is very light. When two areas of low and high pressure are collocated within a small spatial area the gradient is very tight; the winds gush from the high to low pressure at high speeds.

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These were the peak gusts in the area today. Most ranged from 40-nearly 50mph and were strongest around Noon. The heaviest winds occurred just before the front and immediately following the frontal passage.

The winds were not only cooler but also much drier, this led to numerous brush fires across the area.

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Numerous rural volunteer fire departments battled grass fires across the area like this one in Sallisaw.


Wind also pushed over this powerline on Rogers Avenue in Fort Smith. The damage resulted in a traffic jam and power outages across the area while OGE worked to repair the line. Schools on the east side of Fort Smith were without power for 2 hours.


Elsewhere in the area, several small winds were torn down. Often after an ice storm similar to the one we had earlier this winter the first spring wind system results in numerous power outages as tree branches that were barely hanging on give way to the higher winds and come crashing down.


The strong winds also brought down this bank sign on the south side of Fort Smith near Hwy 71 and Brooken Hill. Winds in south Fort Smith at the time were estimated to be near 50mph at times.


Northwest Arkansas also had damage, although not to the extent of the River Valley. This home in Lowell had the shingles peeled off the roof. Damage like this is usually consistent with winds near 50mph or greater.

The strongest winds in our area occur during the spring months, especially in March and April and since we’re only nearing the end of February some of the windiest days could still be ahead of us in the coming months.