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Legendary Livingston wind well-known, but what causes it?

Posted at 9:28 PM, Jan 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-03 21:34:40-05

LIVINGSTON, Mont. – Anyone who has spent time in Park County is familiar with the wind.

Crosswinds closed westbound I-90 Thursday from Springdale to Bozeman Pass but this isn’t uncommon for Livingston.

Livingston, Montana – Known for its downtown restaurants and shops, rodeo, Saturday nights and of course, its powerful crosswinds.

Wind advisories, like the one issued on Thursday, are an almost weekly occurrence and can shut down the interstate.

Thursday’s wind has been blowing all day long and it’s so powerful that it is creating crosswind issues along I90.

How powerful? At about 53 mph, which is gale force.

Those speeds can be dangerous to drive in, but what causes it? It’s all about where Livingston is located. With high pressure located near Yellowstone National Park and lower pressures to the north, the pressure difference causes the wind. The greater that difference is, the stronger the winds are.

You have the Gallatin, Bridger, and Absaroka mountain ranges that act as natural walls to funnel wind through, making it very windy for the city of Livingston.

This wind is called a mountain gap wind and with mountains on both sides of the Paradise Valley, the winds flow north between the Absaroka and Gallatin ranges along the Yellowstone River. They are the strongest when they reach Livingston.

Which is why Montana Highway Patrol urges drivers to pay attention and drive with caution through the area.