Let's call it the Siskiyou Gap Effect
Why do wind speeds in Ashland and Talent always seem to be higher than in Medford or Central Point? I didn’t think the slight elevation difference had anything to do with it. A Google search tells me Ashland is about 600 feet higher than Medford. Are there other factors?
— Via email
The folks at the National Weather Service office in Medford know their stuff, so you’re in luck.
The slight difference in elevation has little to do with the wind differences you mentioned. It has more to do with a gap between the Siskiyou and the Cascade ranges, according to the National Weather Service.
Now, this isn’t like a giant hole punched in the rock or anything. The elevation in the area dips down to about 4,000 feet, flanked on either side by elevations of 6,000 to 7,000 feet in the Cascades and Siskiyous.
“There’s basically an acceleration of air through that opening,” said meteorologist Marc Spilde. “And then as that air descends into the (Rogue) Valley, it accelerates.”
The winds typically don’t get as high in the northern part of the valley because there is frequently a surface inversion in our area that acts as a bit of a lid.
“That inversion deflects the wind above Medford,” Spilde said Tuesday. “We had that this morning. The wind was blowing at the south end of the valley while it was snowing here.”
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