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Wind Speed Direction and Strength

We can describe the wind by talking about its strength or speed and the direction in which it is blowing. This lesson explains about how to monitor wind Speed Direction and Strength and the weather instruments to measure wind Speed Direction and Strength.


How to monitor wind speed direction and strength


Examples of weather instruments


  • Wind sock – To monitor wind direction
  • Anemometer – To monitor wind speed
  • The Beaufort scale – To monitor wind strength


Wind direction


How can we tell which way the wind is blowing?


  • By looking at a weather vane on a tower or church
  • By the compass


E.g. – * North wind blows from the North towards the South.

        * South wind blows from the South towards the North.


The Wind Sock


What is the wind sock?


The wind sock is a long cloth tube through which the wind is funneled.


What does the wind sock show us?

It shows both the direction and strength of the wind.

E.g. – The straighter the sock, the stronger the wind.


Where can we see the wind sock?


  • At airports
  • At airfields
  • At ports


Prevailing winds


What are prevailing winds?


The winds that almost always blow from the same direction are called prevailing winds.


What is the most frequent prevailing wind in Britain?


The westerlies or westerly winds are the most frequent prevailing winds in Britain.


What is the behaviour of this wind?

These move across the Atlantic Ocean bringing windy, wet weather to the high mountains and moorlands in the west. Land east of these areas is drier.




What is an Anemometer?

An Anemometer is the scientific instrument for measuring wind speed. It comes with four little cups attached by a shaft, to a meter or to a scale. The four little cups turn in the wind. When the wind blows harder, the cups of the anemometer turn faster and that is the higher reading on the meter.


The Beaufort scale


We can estimate the speed of the wind by seeing what effect it has on smoke, flags and tree branches.


What is the Beaufort scale?

This is a scale used to measure the strength of the wind. The Beaufort scale is a system of recording wind strength invented in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort. It is a numerical scale ranging from 0 for calm to 12 for a hurricane. Sailors and forecasters use the Beaufort Wind Scale as a standardized way to rate wind strength.


Beaufort Scale


Effects on land


Below 1

 Smoke rises straight up; tree leaves without perceptible motion



1 – 6

 Rising smoke drifts; tree leaves barely move



7 – 12

 Leaves rustle slightly; wind felt on face



13 – 19

 Leaves and twigs move; loose paper and dust raised from ground



20 – 30

 Small branches move; wind raises dust and paper



31 – 39

 Small trees sway and large branches in motion; dust clouds raised




40 – 50

 Large branches move continuously; wind whistles; umbrellas difficult to use



51 – 62

 Whole trees in motion; walking difficult



63 – 74

 Tree twigs break; walking progress slow



75 – 87

 Slight structural damage



88 – 102

 Exposed trees uprooted; heavy structural damage



103 –  117

 Widespread damage



Above 118

 Severe damage and destruction



Also, read the lesson Wind Facts Wind Formation Wind Classification.