Sierra Rotors Project

The Sierra Rotors Project is an NSF-funded project to study mountain-wave induced rotors in the lee of the Sierra Nevada in Owens Valley. The rotors, intense horizontal vorticies with strong turbulence, can pose severe aeronautical hazards. The eastern slopes of the southern Sierra Nevada make up the tallest, steepest, quasi-linear topographic barrier in the contiguous United States, and are well-known for generating large-amplitude mountain waves and strong rotors over the Owens Valley. The main objective of this project is to establish quantitative characteristics of the rotor behavior as well as to evaluate the extent to which current operational mesoscale models can reliably forecast the occurrence of rotors.

The core of the instrumentation in the Project is the DRI network of 16 automatic weather stations located in between Independence and Manzanar in the central part of the Owens Valley. The data presented here is transmitted from the stations by telemetry using 900 MHz spread-spectrum radios to a base station in the Valley, and then relayed to DRI through the Internet, making it accessible in near real-time.
Map Courtesy of

Click on site of interest for more information.
Data is subject to review and verification.

Click here to see the Owens Lake Dustcam
(Courtesy of the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District(

Project inquiries contact
Vanda Grubisic
Division of Atmospheric Sciences
Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Pkwy
Reno, NV 89512-1095
phone: (775) 674-7031
fax: (775) 674-7016

Composite Daily Summaries

Cooperating Agencies:

Desert Research Institute

Western Regional
Climate Center

National Science

Western Regional Climate Center,