This week’s Satellite Image of the Week shows the mountain wave pattern across the Pacific Northwest. This is an animated image, so be sure to watch it! Notice how the clouds seem to linger in a washboard pattern downwind of the mountains. Higher clouds indicate the direction of the upper-level winds.
The winds oscillate a bit as they cross the ridges. As they do, colder air dips lower, then rises, then lowers, and so on. Depending on how much moisture is available and how deep the dips are, this washboard pattern can form.
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Source: College of DuPage – Meteorology