View Full Version : Does Terrain Change Weather?

11-25-2007, 10:33 AM
I don't know if I'm imagining things or if there is some sort of anomily to the west of where I live, but it always seems like the weather (severe) moves around this area.

I live in Mason City, IA. The severe weather usually hits in Algona (about 45 minutes west of here) or 45 minutes to the east in Charles City. The storm track could look like it's going to just roll right over us, but once it gets to Algona, it always seems to track southeast or northeast and miss us completely. Then it goes around us and slams Charles City or other points to the east.

Case in point, just last week there was snow headed this way, but it went to the south and dumped a few inches on Ames, IA (again, about 45 minutes to an hour away).

It just seems like there is a 45 mile wide circle around my town that pushes the 'good' weather away. Even in the summer time, the good thunderstorms and tornados (I have a fascination with severe weather) alwasy go around us or die out before they get here.

So anyway, my question is...

Do changes in the terrain have an affect on how the storms will track?


11-25-2007, 05:58 PM

Terrain does have an effect. Large bodies of water (like Lake Superior) and meaningful changes in elevations (such as the Rockies, Appalachians and even the larger hills of NE MN, upper and lower MI) can effect weather.

However, these terrain features typically do not cause a storm to split. Large mountain ranges like the Rockies can squeeze out the moisture and have less precip fall downwind of them, but do not split storms.

There are no terrain features in IA large enough to cause any kind of weather modification of significance, other than fog in river valleys.

So sorry, but that is just the way the cookie crumbles. But like the saying goes... "Be careful about what you wish for". Especially in the case of severe weather!


11-26-2007, 06:08 AM

Thanks for the input. Unfortunately you have proven to me just how much this area sucks. I was hoping I could blame it on something out west, but it's just this particular area.

If I had it my way, I'm move to the UP!

Thanks again for the quick response.