Trade Winds

What Are Trade Winds?

If you are someone who likes stories of adventure and dashing pirates, you probably have heard of the term “trade winds.” Used by sailors for hundreds of years, these winds were a major player in the economies of the world for many years. Additionally, these winds were used to transport people, both for good and for nefarious reasons.

We have done the job and done all of the research for anyone who is wondering more about trade winds. These fascinating weather patterns are still in play today, and though they are not necessarily considered to be dangerous or severe, that isn’t necessarily true. Here, we present all of the facts you need to know about trade winds, so make sure to share this with your family and friends.

The Definition of Trade Winds

The trade winds, also known as the “easterlies,” are permanent prevailing winds that are found around the world. They blow from east to west, and in the Northern Hemisphere, they tend to blow from the northeast, and in the Southern Hemisphere, they tend to blow from the southeast. These winds also usually strengthen during the winter months, as well.

For hundreds of years, sailors used these winds to sail their ships, as they crossed the oceans during the Age of Exploration. These winds helped sailors from Europe and elsewhere expand into the Americas, and eventually, ships would catch these winds and created trade routes from Europe to the New World.

From a meteorological standpoint, the trade winds serve as a push for tropical storms that form in the world’s oceans, specifically in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. The winds push these storms into landmasses including North America, East Africa, Southeast Asia, and Madagascar.

Most interestingly, the trade winds also transport dust from the Saharan Desert to parts of North and South American. In fact, the eye-catching sunsets in Florida are often attributed to the Saharan dust that is brought to the Sunshine State via the trade winds.

Trade Winds Blow from Which Direction? 

The trade winds blow from the east to the west. They do this because of the Earth’s rotation on its axis. These winds begin as moist, warm air that is created at the equator. It rises up into the atmosphere, and as the air begins to cool, it also begins to blow.

At What Latitudes Do the Trade Winds Occur?

The trade winds occur from 30 degrees north to 30 degrees south, and they straddle the equator.

Where Are the Trade Winds Located?

The trade winds are located around the equator up to 30 degrees north and down to 30 degrees south. The trade winds circle the globe. 

What Is Produced by Converging Trade Winds?

When the trade winds converge, they produce an upward force of wind as the air becomes heated.

How Do Trade Winds Affect Us?

Trade Winds blow direction

The trade winds affect us in a number of ways. Of course, there are positive ways that these wind patterns affect us, including giving ships with sails a wind that enables it to move. There are also negative ways that these trade winds affect us including by increasing air pollution by pushing particulates through the air from the ground, like that Saharan dust mentioned before.

Additionally, these winds push tropical storms into landforms, including hurricanes, which can devastate lives.

What Is the Difference Between Trade Winds and Westerlies?

The main difference between the trade winds and the westerlies are where these winds are found. As mentioned, the trade winds blow between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south. The westerlies, however, are different. These winds blow from 30 degrees north and 60 degrees north as well as from 30 degrees south to 60 degrees south. The westerlies blow from the west to the east, and the trade winds blow from the east to the west.


As you can see, the trade winds can both positively and negatively affect us. These are winds that blow from the east to the west and are only found around the equator. The trade winds have played a role in world history in both positive and negative ways, and they will continue to play a role both now and in the future.

Now that you know everything there is to know about the trade winds, make sure to share this information with your family and friends.

FAQs About Trade Winds

How Did the Monsoon Winds Affect Trade?

The “Monsoon Winds,” which are a type of trade wind in the Indian Ocean, certainly still affect trade. These winds occur twice a year, and they help to facilitate trade from one end of the Indian Ocean to the other. These winds are very predictable, and they allow people to travel along these routes. These winds allow ships to travel in a predictable manner, and also make sailing in these areas less dangerous.

How Did Trade Winds Get Their Name?

It’s not a surprise when you learn how the trade winds got their name. They were named by the crews of the ships that used these winds to cross the oceans. The sailors would use the winds to move from Europe to the New World with trade in the West.

When Are the Trade Winds in Hawaii?

The trade winds are found in Hawaii from May through September. During this time, you can find the trade winds blowing almost 90 percent of the time. These winds come from the northwest, and they generally don’t gust any more than 20 miles per hour.

How Do the Doldrums and Trade Winds Affect Our Weather?

The doldrums and the trade winds affect our weather because when the sun is focused right at the equator, the temperature gets hot. This heat begins to warm up the air, which causes the water in the ocean to evaporate. This leads to the air in the doldrums, a convergence zone around the equator, to become moist and warm. This warm air begins to rise and cool, which form clouds, and as these clouds develop, they turn into rain and storms. In the Atlantic Ocean, for instance, some of these storms form into hurricanes, and the trade winds, as we have explained, push these storms into the coastal areas of North and South America.

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