Spirit of adventure: Mountain winds, clouds, and flying through the worst of it

Ever wondered why it is so windy in Boulder? Or why it gets bumpy flying over and downwind of the Rocky Mountains? Mountains exert a strong influence on the atmosphere, affecting nearby weather and generating their own climate. To learn how and why some of the strongest winds on Earth form, scientists have long used gliders, powered aircraft, and other research platforms to collect data in very strong wind and turbulence conditions generated by airflow over mountains. NCAR scientist Vanda Grubišić discusses the how and why of mountain weather, winds, and clouds — and what it’s like to take those bumpy rides for science.