measuring winds

How Are Winds Measured?

Everyone feels the pressure and speed of the wind when on those windy days. Sometimes, it’s so fast and hard that people feel like they are going to fall over. Have you ever wondered how scientists measure wind? The speed of the wind can be found on smartphones, but how did it get there? There are two ways that wind is measured, and it is all going to be explained in this post.

Overall, this post is going to break down everything you need to know when it comes to measuring winds. Share this with any friends who are also interested in this topic.

How Do We Measure Winds?

wind measuring instrument

Using Cup Anemometer

An anemometer is used by meteorologists to calculate wind speed. It has four arms on top of a pole that also has cups on the end of each arm. The arms can move freely in a circular motion. Cups are used to catch the wind from any direction, so the arms can move with the wind.

The faster the wind is blowing, the faster the arms spin. Meteorologists count the number of times the anemometer complete one rotation in 30 seconds. Afterwards, they multiple this number by two and it gives them the wind speed in rotations per minute.

Using Sonic Anemometer

Sonic anemometers were invented in the 1970s. They use ultrasonic sound waves to measure the speed of the wind. There are four transducers, one for North, South, East, and West. The machine tracks how many sound waves travel between a pair of transducers.

If the wind is coming from the North then the sound wave gets passed through the North and South transducers. Wind that is coming from the West is passed through the West and East transducers.

Measurement of Wind Direction Using Wind Vane

When using a wind vane, it is important to place it on high ground and away from any obstructions. That means no trees and no buildings. Hold the wind vane above your head. Make sure that it is pointed in the right direction so that the ‘N’ symbol is pointed north.

Then, record the direction the wind vane is pointing to. That is the direction the wind is coming from.

Units Used to Measure Winds

Typically, meteorologists measure wind speed in knots, which is nautical miles per hour. They also measure it in meters per second, depending on the locale. Depending on where they are in the world, that information is released to the public in either kilometers per hour or miles per hour.

Factors That Affect the Wind Speed

Four factors affect wind speed: temperature, air pressure, centripetal acceleration, and the Earth’s rotation.

Temperature: The temperature of the air changes from day and night and from season to season. Due to the warming effects of the sun, there tend to be more winds during the day. Air masses also matter because a warm air mass is less dense than a cold air mass. The warm air goes above the cold air and creates winds.

Air Pressure: This is the weight of a column of air that is reaching the top of the atmosphere from the ground. The air pressure decreases the higher you go up. Air on the Earth’s surface is blown horizontally due to the high-pressure to low-pressure areas. The air pressure changes between the two are what determines the speed.

Centripetal Acceleration: Centripetal force increases wind speed and also has an influence on the direction the wind is blowing. This acceleration then creates a flow of the wind and inward towards the center. When this happens, cyclones and tornadoes begin to form.

Earth’s Rotation: The Earth’s rotation causes winds to shift direction, so prevailing winds are then created. When this shaft happens, the winds from the Northern Hemisphere move to the right, and then, winds from the Southern Hemisphere move to the left. This then causes the winds to change direction.

Effect Of Wind Speed in Designing Structures

Wind Speed in Designing Structures

The wind is a powerful force that can push many objects out of their way. With so many buildings around the planet, they must be designed appropriately. Otherwise, they may fall over. That is why the building must be able to absorb wind forces safely and efficiently. After doing this, the building needs to be able to transfer the wind to the foundations, so it does not collapse.


The speed of wind can change dramatically and quickly. It is good to know how we have learned to measure the speed of the wind. Also, it allows people to experiment when it comes to wind. It is even simple to make a cup anemometer yourself, so try to figure out the wind speed in your area. If this post was useful to you, then remember to share it with your friends so that they can learn about wind speed as well.


What Are the Two Main Measurements Used to Describe Wind?

There are two measurements that are used to describe wind, which is direction and speed. Direction is used to describe where the wind came from. Speed is used to describe how fast the wind is traveling.

Which Device Is Used to Measure Wind Direction?

An anemometer is used to measure the direction and speed of the wind. Two different anemometers are used, the cup anemometer and the sonic anemometer.

share on:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Get more with


Take the weather with you

By QR code

Scan the QR and install

App QR Download