The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Blowing hard: The windiest time of year and other fun facts on wind

(Website: <a href=""></a> )

(This story, which first ran in March 2014, has been updated.)

With the recent fits of wind, we’ve been peppered with questions. What’s the windiest time of year? Is it getting windier? Where – in the U.S. – is it windiest?

Here’s a short guide to all-things wind.

1. What is Washington, D.C.’s windiest month?

Our windiest month is March, when the average wind speed is 10.9 mph according to NOAA.  April, however, is not far behind with an average speed of 10.5 mph followed by February and January with average speeds of 10.3 and 10.0 mph, respectively.

Generally, winter to early spring is D.C.’s windiest time of year.

2. Why is March D.C.’s windiest month?

Wind is driven by differences in temperature and air pressure over small distances.  In March, when winter is transitioning to spring, cold air masses and warm air masses are frequently in close proximity in the eastern U.S., which creates strong wind.

3. Is it getting windier in Washington, D.C.?

Capital Weather Gang’s Rick Grow found a recent uptick in winter winds, but slightly decreasing trend in wind speeds over the long-term.

4. What is Washington, D.C.’s least windy month?

The summer wind, came blowin’ in from across the sea
It lingered there to touch your hair and walk with me…

August, with an average wind speed of 8.1 mph is D.C.’s calmest month.  July and September tie for second most calm with average speeds of 8.3 mph.

Winds are gentle in these months because the storm track is displaced well to D.C.’s north and the temperature contrast over the eastern U.S. is weak.

5. What is Washington, D.C.’s highest wind speed ever clocked?

Hurricane Hazel’s official 98 mph wind gust at 5:05 p.m. on Oct. 15, 1954 at National Airport, is still the highest ever recorded for Washington, D.C. Sustained winds were recorded at 78 mph.

6. How strong were the winds during the June 29, 2012 derecho?

Peak wind gusts in the D.C. region during the derecho:

71 mph near Dulles Airport
70 mph in Damascus, Md.
79 mph in Reston, Va.
65 mph in Rockville, Md.
70 mph at Reagan National Airport
76 mph in Seat Pleasant, Md. (Prince George’s co.)
77 mph in Swan Point, Md. (Charles co.)
70 mph in Ashburn, Va.
69 mph in Leesburg, Va.

7. What are the windiest and least windy states?

For the purpose of identifying the states offering the best wind power resources, the Department of Energy has analyzed which have the strongest and lightest winds.  The windiest weather tends to occur in the Plains, while the least windy weather occurs in the Southeast.

The top 5 windiest states are: Nebraska (1), Kansas (2), South Dakota (3), North Dakota (4), and Iowa (5).

The top 5 least windy states are: Mississipi (1), Florida (2), Kentucky (3), Georgia (4),and Alabama (5).

8. What are windiest and least windy locations in the Lower 48 states?

Among places where speeds are routinely measured,  Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, is, by far, the windiest location in the Lower 48 with an average wind speed of 35 mph, according to data from NOAA.

What it’s like to be a weather observer on the tallest mountain in the Northeast

Here are the top 5 windiest locations (based on at least 20 years of data): Mt Washington (1), Blue Hill, Ma. (2), Dodge City, Ks. (3), Amarillo, Tx. (4), Rochester, Mn (5).

The least 5 windy locations are: Medford, Or (1), Bristol, Tn (2), Los Angeles (3), Elkins, Wv. (4), and Quillayute, Wa. (5)

Of the 250 locations or so analyzed, Washington, D.C. ranks as around the 100th windiest.

9. What’s the highest wind gust ever recorded in the U.S.?

The 231 mph gust logged on Mt. Washington on April 12, 1934 is unrivaled in the U.S.

10. What’s the highest wind gust ever recorded on Earth?

On April 10, 1996, a 253 mph gust was measured on Barrow Island, Australia as the eyewall of tropical cyclone Olivia passed.

(This article was first published March 26, 2014 at 3:26 p.m.).