We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Wind Speed?

By Darlene Goodman
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Wind speed is typically judged as the velocity of wind. Most measurements of air movement are taken of outside air, and there are several factors that can affect it. Average wind speed is often determined by an anemometer and is usually categorized in a standardized measurement scale, called the Beaufort Scale.

Of the major factors that influence wind speed, the most important is called the pressure gradient, created by a graduated disparity in atmospheric pressure that occurs in different places. Some areas have low pressure, while others have higher pressure. For example, a valley may have a higher atmospheric pressure than the peak of a mountain that is only a few miles away. Usually, the pressure increases gradually between both points.

For the most part, air moves along these pressure gradients from high pressure to low pressure. The movement is the major force that creates wind on Earth. The greater the difference in pressure, the greater the wind speed. Therefore, areas that experience a large change in pressure over a short distance will typically have higher wind velocities than those where the change is more gradual.

Another factor that may affect the speed of the wind is local weather conditions. Storm fronts often contribute to air currents, as they can create pressure gradients for the wind to travel along. Also freak storms, like hurricanes or cyclones, can drastically alter wind speed.

Another influence on wind velocity is the presence of Rossby waves. These upper atmospheric air currents manipulate weather patterns in the air below. They are caused by the Coriolis effect. A Rossby wave may influence pressure gradients and stir up faster speeds.

The most common way to measure wind speed is to use an anemometer. The earliest anemometers consisted of a vertical shaft with a horizontal wheel of spokes. Each spoke holds a small cup at its end, and the cups catch the wind to spin the wheel. The speed of wind can be calculated based on how often the wheel rotates in a given amount of time. Many of these devices are still made like this.

Other types of anemometers have been developed as well. Laser Doppler anemometers use lasers to calculate wind speeds. Windmill anemometers operate with a fan pointed into the wind. Hot wire anemometers use the wind-produced friction on an electrically charged wire to determine wind speed.

The Beaufort Scale is a standardized measurement for wind speed. It is an empirical rating system originally based on the appearance and height of waves at sea. The system has developed to also include speed ratings for each level in knots, miles per hour, and kilometers per hour.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.