How to estimate wind speeds

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By David Silver on April 10, 2012, 3:12am

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This month of April seems more like March with the high winds we have been experiencing all week. My anenometer measured a wind gust of 25 mph today. But without a wind gauge how could we tell what kind of wind speeds we have been having? Well, thanks to Francais Beaufort, we have a standardized way of telling what the wind speeds are without having to have a anenometer on hand. Beaufort came up with a way of standardizing wind speeds in 1805. Now, with this Beaufort scale we can gauge wind speeds by observaton without an instrument on hand. Here is a abbreviated list of the Beaufort scale. The scale has been modernized.

Wind Speed in mph, Beaufort number, Wind Effects on Land

Less than 1   0   Calm, smoke rises vertically

1-3 ,  1  Wind direction is seen in direction of smoke

4-7     2  Wind can be felt on face, leaves rustle

8-12   3  Leaves and small twigs in motion, wind extends a light flag

13-18  4 Wind raises dust and loose papers. Small branches move.

19-24  5 Small trees with leaves begin to sway, crested wavelets appear on inland waters

25-31  6 Large branches move, umbrellas become difficult to control

32-38  7 Whole trees sway and walking into the wind becomes difficult

39-46 8 Twigs break off trees, cars veer on roads

47-54  9 Slight structural damage occurs, roof tiles may blow away

55-63 10 Trees uprooted, considerable structural damage is caused

64-72 11 Widespread damage is cuased

73 +   12 Widespread damage.

While out in the gardens today, I guessed at a Beaufort number of 4 which would have indicated wind speeds of 13-18 because of the raising dust and branches moving in the trees. On my way home, I noticed the wind pushing up the waves on Bantam Lake so I upped my estimate to 19-24 mph and a Beaufort number of 5. First thing at the house, I checked the memory on the wind gauge and it had indicated a wind gust of 25 mph. That's pretty accurate.

Next windy day, try out this Beaufort scale and check your observations by your own anenometer or the weather newscast on News8.

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David Silver

Town: Morris, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since February 2012.

Articles: 24

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