Colorado’s Terrain-Tied Meteorology: Start Early and Bring a Camera, a Helmet, Shorts, and a Parka

Authors: Brandon Vogt*, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Mountain Environments, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: mountain meteorology, weather, climate, Colorado, extreme weather events
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research paper illuminates the overwhelming control that Colorado’s physical landscape maintains over its weather and discusses the oftentimes extreme manifestation of these interactions. The complex configuration of high mountain ranges, vast plateaus, incised valleys, and extensive sloping piedmont surfaces lift, block, converge, redirect, swirl, and stagnate the atmosphere. This array of terrain-troposphere interactions manifests in colorful, invigorating, and oftentimes extreme weather phenomena such as surreal clouds, wild temperature and pressure fluctuations, hurricane force winds, extreme precipitation events, large and deep hail, intense lightning, and a surprising number of tornadoes. This paper ties specific landscape features (Palmer Divide, San Juan Mountains, San Luis Valley) to (mostly) warm season weather phenomena (thunderstorm activity, North American Monsoon (NAM), Denver Convergence-Vorticity Zone (DCVZ)), and 2019 record-breaking events.

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