WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Just Another Windy Wednesday

Posted December 31, 2008 9:25 a.m. EST
Updated December 31, 2008 9:55 a.m. EST

Map of surface weather features valid on Wednesday evening, December 31, 2008.  (NOAA/HPC)

With apologies to the Bangles – would they even care? – we can file this one in the "this doesn't happen every day" category.  The winds across the Triangle could easily whip up to more than 40 mph later today.

A strong cold front moving through the state will be the opening act of this windy day.  As a very strong area of high pressure builds in behind the front, this will tighten what meteorologists call the pressure gradient across area.  The pressure gradient is simply the difference in pressure across a given distance.  The bigger the difference or the shorter the distance, the higher or "tighter" the gradient is.

In this case, a large pressure gradient indicates that the atmosphere is trying to shove a lot of air through a given space.  Much like blowing through a straw, the more air you want to move through the straw, the harder you must blow.  Same thing with the atmosphere today.

As high pressure builds in tonight, things should relax a bit, giving us a less windy night tonight as we ring in the new year.  Make sure you have a warm coat – even without the gusty winds, it will be downright cold with air temperatures in the upper 20s at midnight.