Understanding and Forecasting Zonda Wind (Andean Foehn) in Argentina: A Review


This paper focuses on the “state of the art” research of the Argentinian zonda wind at the beginning of 2015. Zonda (similar to foehn) is a strong, warm, very dry wind associated with adiabatic compression upon descending the eastern slopes of the Andes Cordillera in western central Argentina. Particularly, hourly surface meteorological information obtained from the Argentine National Weather Service (Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, SMN) from Mendoza Aero (32?50’S, 68?47’W, 704 m ASL) and San Juan Aero (31?34’S, 68?25’W, 598 m ASL) airport meteorological stations was used. The paper contains a history of zonda research mentioning the principal papers since the 1950s, the characteristics of zonda wind (conceptual model, a classic event, intensities categories) and examples of non-classical episodes. Also zonda dynamics, zonda climatology and forecasting problems are considered. A probabilistic method and the model forecast that are running in operative way are commented. Also the climate impact, air quality and damages caused are mentioned. There has been substantial progress in the understanding of this kind of complex wind during the last years, especially since the last decade, accelerated using different models. This paper has highlighted some of these advances by synthesizing some of the major findings. The probabilistic prediction method developed in the 1980s is still very useful to predict zonda in the cities of San Juan and Mendoza. This as well as the new available tools, such as the eta/PRM and GEM models running operatively (continuously) at PRM (Mendoza Regional Meteorology Program), offered the community the possibility to generate an Early Warning System to warn the population particularly in its severe manifestations. The answer to questions regarding time of onset of the event, place where it will occur first, duration, intensity and offset still poses a great challenge for researchers and forecasters in the region.

Share and Cite:

Norte, F. (2015) Understanding and Forecasting Zonda Wind (Andean Foehn) in Argentina: A Review. Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, 5, 163-193. doi: 10.4236/acs.2015.53012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Norte, F. (1988) Características del Viento Zonda en la Región de Cuyo. PhD Thesis, University of Buenos Aires, 255 pp. Available from Programa Regional de Meteorología (PRM), Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales. (IANIGLA), Centro Científico Tecnológico (CCT), CONICET, Mendoza, Argentina. (In Spanish)
[2] Norte, F., Ulke, A., Simonelli, S. and Viale, M. (2008) The Severe Zonda Wind Event of 11 July 2006 East of the Andes Cordillera (Argentine): A Case Study Using The BRAMS Model. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 102, 1-14.
[3] Huschke, R.E. (Ed.) (1980) Glossary of Meteorology. American Meteorological Society, Boston, 638 p.
[4] Mesinger, F., Jovic, D., Chou, S.C., Gomes, J.L. and Bustamante, J.F. (2006) Wind Forecast around the Andes using the Sloping Discretization of the Eta Coordinate. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography, Foz do Igua?u, 24-28 April 2006, 1837-1848.
[5] Brinkmann, W.A.R. (1974) Strong Downslope Winds at Boulder, Colorado. Monthly Weather Review, 102, 592-602.
[6] Lamb, P. (1974) Norwesters Potential Foehn Influence on Canterbury Plains (New Zealand) Surface Heat Exchanges. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 17, 349-355.
[7] Lindesay, J.A. (1990) Thermo-Orographically Boundary Layer Oscillations over the Central Namibia, Southern Africa. International Journal of Climatology, 10, 63-77. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/joc.3370100108
[8] Kalnay, E., Kanamitsu, M., Kistler, R., Collins, W., Deaven, L., Gandin, L., Iredell, M., Saha, S., Woolen, J., Zhu, Y., Chelliah. M., Ebizuzaki, W., Higgins, W., Janowiak, J., Mo, K., Ropelevski, C., Wang, J., Leetmaa, A., Reynolds, R., Roy, J. and Dennis, J. (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-Year Reanalysis Project. Bull Am Meteorol Soc, 77, 437-471.
[9] Otero, F. and Norte, F. (2014) Statistical Analysis and Classification Methods for Zonda Wind in San Juan City, Argentina. XXVII Conferencia de la Asociación Argentina de Geofísicos y Geodestas (AAGG), November 2014, San Juan. (In CD)
[10] Seluchi, M.E., Norte, F.A., Satyamurty, P. and Chou, S.C. (2003) Analysis of Three Situations of the Foehn Effect over the Andes (Zonda Wind) Using the Eta-CPTEC Regional Model. Weather Forecast, 18, 481-501.
[11] Norte, F., Seluchi, M., Gomes, J. and Simonelli, S. (2007) Análisis de una Ola de Calor Extrema en la Región Subtropical de América del Sur. Revista Brasileira de Meteorologia, 22, 373-386. (In Spanish)
[12] Cotton, W.R., Pielke, R.A., Walko, R.L., Liston, G.E., Tremback, C.J., Jiang. H., McAnelly, R.L., Harrington, J.Y., Nicholls, M.E., Carrió, G. and MacFadden, J.P (2003) RAMS 2001: Current Status and Future Directions. Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, 82, 5-29.
[13] Ulke, A.G., Saulo, A.C. and Nicolini, M. (2001) Simulación con el modelo de mesoescala RAMS de las Condiciones Asociadas a la Ocurrencia de un Mesosistema Convectivo. In: Proceedings of the IX Congreso Latinoamericano e Ibérico de Meteorología—VIII Congreso Argentino de Meteorología, No. 261, 10 pp. (In Spanish)
[14] Richner, H. and H?chler, P. (2013) Understanding and Forecasting Alpine Foehn. In: Chow, F.K., De Wekker, S.F.J. and Snyder, B.J., Eds., Mountain Weather Research and Forecasting, Springer Atmospheric Sciences, 219-260 (Chapter 4).
[15] Georgii, W. (1952) Regulación del tiempo por la doble onda diaria de la presión atmosférica en Mendoza. Meteoros, II, 182-189.
[16] Georgii, W. (1954) Dinámica del viento Zonda en Mendoza. In: Anales del Departamento de Investigaciones Científicas de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, UNCU Editors, Mendoza, 109-119.
[17] Rolón de los Santos, G. and Afonso, J. (1977) Aspectos estadísticos y sinópticos del viento Zonda. Meteorológica, VIII/IX, 321-330.
[18] Lichtenstein, E.R. (1980) La Depresión del Noroeste Argentino. PhD Thesis, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales. Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires.
[19] Viale, M. and Norte, F. (2009) Strong Cross-Barrier Flow under Stable Conditions Producing Intense Winter Orographic Precipitation: A Case Study over Subtropical Central Andes. Weather and Forecasting, 24, 1009-1031.
[20] Chiconi, S. (2010) Estudio Retrospectivo de la Influencia del Viento Zonda y otros Factores Meteorológicos en el Cólico Equino en el Cuerpo de la Policía Montada de la Policía de la Provincia de Mendoza. Undergraduate Thesis, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y Ambientales, Universidad Juan Agustin Maza, Mendoza.
[21] Palese, C. and Cogliati, M.G. (2014) Detección de Casos de Viento Zonda Norpatagónico. XXVII Reunión Científica de la Asociación Argentina de Geofísicos y Geodestas, San Juan, November 2014. (Sent to GEOACTA to be published, in revisión)
[22] Otero F., Norte, F. and Araneo, D. (2015) Obtención de un índice de Probabilidad de Viento Zonda en Mendoza mediante el Análisis de Componentes Principales IANIGLA-CCT-CONICET-Mendoza. (Accepted for CONGREMET XII, Mar del Plata, 26-29 May 2015)
[23] Yuchechen, A., Norte, F. and Araneo, D. (2015) Comparación de Estructuras Verticales de Temperatura y Humedad entre Condiciones Normales y Eventos Zonda para Distintas Localidades del Cono Sur de Sudamérica. (Accepted for CONGREMET XII, Mar del Plata, 26-29 May 2015)
[24] Brinkmann, W.A.R. (1973) A Climatological Study of Strong Downslope Winds in the Boulder Area. PhD Thesis, NCAR (Natural Center for Atmospheric Research), Boulder, Colorado.
[25] Ferreira, L.J. (2008) Causas y Variabilidad de la Depresión del Noroeste Argentino e Impactos sobre los Patrones Regionales de Circulación. PhD Thesis, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, 177 pp. (In Spanish)
[26] Steinacker, R. (2006) Alpine Foehn—A New Verse to an Old Song. Promet, 32, 3-10. (In German)
[27] Silva, A.R. (2004) Ondas Orográficas sobre a Cordilheira dos Andes em Latitudes Subtropicais: Estudo de Caso. MSc Thesis, S?o José dos Campos, 114 pp. (INPE-10528-TDI/935)
[28] Norte, F., Santos, J.R., Hofer J.A., Araneo, D.A. and Simonelli, S.C. (2014) Zonda Wind Events: When Do They Arrive to the Metropolitan Area of Mendoza? WCRP Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean: Developing, Linking and Applying Climate Knowledge, Montevideo, 17-21 March 2014. (Poster Session)
[29] Brier, G.W. (1950) Verification of Forecasts Expressed in Terms of Probability. Monthly Weather Review, 78, 1-3.
[30] Santos, J.R., Norte, F., Nagarajan, B., Araneo, D.A., Simonelli, S.C. and Bustos, C. (2014) Forecasting and Nowcasting of Severe Weather. Seventh European Conference on Severe Storms (ECSS), 3-7 June 2013, Helsinki. (Poster Session)
[31] Santos, J.R., Hofer, J.A., Norte, F., Araneo, D.A. and Simonelli, S.C. (2014) Choosing a Numerical Weather Prediction Model to Forecast Zonda Wind. WCRP Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean: Developing, Linking and Applying Climate Knowledge, 17-21 March 2014, Montevideo, Uruguay. (Poster Session)
[32] Allende, D.G., Mulena, G.C., Puliafito, S.E., Lakkis, S.G., Cremades, P.G. and Castro, F.H. (2012) A first approach on modeling windblown dust in Zonda wind events. In: XI Congreso Argentino de Meteorología (CONGREMET XI), Mendoza, 28 May-1 June 2012.
[33] Grell, G.A. (2005) Fully Coupled Online Chemistry within the WRF Model. Atmospheric Environment, 39, 6957-6975.
[34] INFOJUS (2014) Creación del Procedimiento para el manejo operativo de fenómenos meteorológicos extremos regionales. LEY 8692. Boletín Oficial, Mendoza. Id Infojus: LPM 0008692. Sistema Argentino de Información Jurídica (Argentine System of Juridical Information).

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.