How To Measure Wind Speed

Through the years, measuring wind speed has been done in a variety of ways -- from the original weather vanes where the cockerel head would point in the direction the wind was blowing from, to the more precise anemometer devices used by meteorologists where the spinning of cup shaped fans would register on a computer the exact direction and speed of the winds.

Dating back to a more personal approach, the Beaufort scale divides wind strengths into 12 force levels plus a level 0. This technique of measuring wind speed uses one's environment and the effects of the wind on that environment to gain knowledge of possible wind speeds in comparison with milestones set on this Beaufort scale.

In order to measure the wind speed using your environmental surroundings, you would need to have some landmarks in which to use as the basis for measuring such as smoke from chimneys, campfire, candle or some other source. Trees, open water, electrical lines, umbrellas and items such as these that are exposed to the wind will also work for measuring the wind using the Beaufort scale.

  • Force 0 -- A calm, still pool of water or smoke that is rising straight up is a <1mph or Complete Calm when measuring the wind speed.
  • Force 1 -- Smoke drifting slightly or water with a slight movement indicates a 1-3 mph or Light Air when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 2 -- Smoke bent to one direction at a slight angle, air felt on your face or leaves rustling in the wind would indicate a 4-7mph or Light Breeze when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 3 -- Smoke bent at a right angle to one direction, twigs moving in the wind or water moving with a slight wave in one direction would indicate an 8-12 mph or a Gentle Breeze when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 4 -- Larger branches moving, waves lapping over each other or flags blowing out in one direction would indicate a 13-18 mph or Moderate Breeze when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 5 -- Small bushes and trees swaying, white capping on water waves or electrical lines swaying would indicate a 19-24 mph or a Fresh Breeze when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 6 -- If it is hard to use an umbrella without it collapsing, wind is whistling as it moves electrical lines or the white capping water is also breaching further onto a shoreline this would indicate a 25-31 mph or Strong Breeze when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 7 -- Larger trees swaying, difficulty walking into the wind and the sky is possibly dark or stormy this would indicate a 32-38 mph or a Near Gale when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 8 -- Trees and Branches starting to break, practically impossible to walk into the wind and waters breaching barriers would indicate a 39-46 mph or a Gale when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 9 -- Damage to rooftops, other freestanding structures, breaking of trees and possibly a very dark, cloud filled sky would indicate a 47-54 mph or a Strong Gale when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 10 -- Storm conditions, damage to freestanding buildings and trees uprooted would indicate a 55-63 mph or a Storm Wind Condition when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 11 -- Widespread damage to structures, uprooted trees and flooding of waters from storm surge breaching barriers would indicate a 64-72 mph or a Violent Storm Wind Condition when measuring wind speed.
  • Force 12 -- Severe widespread damage to all structures, loss of power lines and storm surged rising waters destroying structures would indicate a >73 mph or Hurricane Wind Conditions when measuring wind speed.

These environmental indicators are still widely used by sailors at sea, sports enthusiasts, hunters and the meteorological community when modern day devices fail or even to enhance the reporting of the computerized wind speed readings as they describe the conditions that accompany these readings from equipment.

 

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