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Sandstone cliff
As winter approaches here in Johnson Canyon, I will be paying close attention to katabatic winds. Without looking it up, what are katabatic winds, and why would they be important to us in the canyon?


Katabatic winds are the result of cold air being denser than warmer air. In cold weather, the denser, cold air flows down the canyon, just as water would. This can make the canyon floor as much as 10°F colder than the surrounding countryside. Those colder temperatures mean we tend to have harder freezes than the folks in town. When conditions are right, we can even see where katabatic air flows form "streams" of frost on the ground as they flow down the canyon walls towards the Johnson Wash in the center of the canyon.