What is it about?

This is a study of severe wind events in the western foothills of the southern Appalachian mountains which produced extremely high winds (80-95 knots or 90-110 mph) and strong warming in a narrow area. A long-term study was also conducted to determine the frequency and typical timing of these winds.

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Why is it important?

Strong southeasterly (or southerly) winds producing severe damage occur every year in the foothills of the southern Appalachian mountains due to mountain waves. Some mountain wave events have produced extremely high winds (80-95 knots or 90-110 mph) which caused significant damage within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Camp Creek community of east Tennessee. Strong warming has also been observed with these type of winds, which typically caught forecasters by surprise. This study examines why these wind events occurred, and examines the typical characteristics of these wind events.


There were many times when forecasters would receive reports of significant wind damage in the lower elevations of the Great Tennessee Valley, although strong winds were expected to be confined to the higher elevations of the southern Appalachian mountains. This study examines why severe winds were observed in the lower elevations, and shows ways that forecasters can anticipate these winds and the strong warming that can also result downwind of the mountains.

David Morris Gaffin
National Weather Service

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: On High Winds and Foehn Warming Associated with Mountain-Wave Events in the Western Foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Weather and Forecasting, February 2009, American Meteorological Society,
DOI: 10.1175/2008waf2007096.1.
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