Most people notice the wind in winter only when it is blowing snow or causing bitter wind chill. Meteorologists notice this, too, but we have an additional concern for the wind at various levels thousands of feet up in the air. Most significant is the wind at the jet stream level of the atmosphere. This is up around 30,000-35,000 feet above sea level, where the temperature is usually around -50°F or so and the wind speed can range from calm to 200 mph.

When the jet stream wind is coming from the north, it can bring surface air down from Arctic regions, sending the temperatures outside to numbers well below zero. When it comes from the southwest, like late last week, it can bring strong, low-pressure systems and snow. When it comes from the west, like it is for the next few days, it usually is carrying surface air downhill from the Rocky Mountains. This air comes from the Pacific and has dropped its moisture in the mountains, resulting in mild, dry weather, even in winter.

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