How are Winds Measured: A Definitive Guide of 2022

How are Winds MeasuredThe Sun heats up the Earth causing air to move from one direction to another due to pressure. Consequently, Earth has its own rotation that adds speed in winds. It’s called the Coriolis Effect of Earth.

Altogether, it causes light breeze to speedy destructive tornadoes and other forms of natural disasters caused by winds. Therefore, tracking the wind directions with speed is really important to monitor and predict changes in the climate.

This is very important particularly if you’re living in a coastal area!

The air-movement pattern will help you to be alarmed by the upcoming weather conditions. Also, be informed that air has a very powerful impact on the surface level of water in the ocean. It’s liable for creating currents, storm surges, and more.

With that in mind, we’re dedicated to finding how are winds measured!

If that sounds of interest to you, stick together!

9 Benefits of Measuring Wind Speed and Direction

For weather forecasting, measuring wind speed and direction is equally important like temperature, decrease or increase in humidity, precipitation, or air pressure. It also has benefits in our daily life activities and agricultural sectors.

That said, we’ve made a list of benefits in one place and here they are;

#1. Better Weather Forecasting

Weather Forecasting

Measuring wind can tell the upcoming weather pattern. Meteorologists use this as a parameter to define how fast the condition is about to change in a certain region.

For instance, you’re informed that it’s raining in a city 40 nautical miles to the South of your region and the precipitation is moving towards the North at 20kts. So there’s a high chance it’ll be raining in your area in about 2 hours.

Also, it’s possible to alert people if there’re possibilities of storms or tornados. Ships and boats can be warned about any disasters following up any directions.

Read also: Our top 12 weather forecasting apps revealed!

#2. Performing Smooth Constructions

Smooth Constructions

Constructions works like home building, setting up windbreaks, or electric line repairing jobs require favorable weather conditions. Otherwise, you'll have to cut it off in the middle eventually resulting in higher project costs.

However, if you have the right tools and techniques, you can easily predict the upcoming weather condition. That way, define your project run time and schedule properly for a smooth operation.

#3. Defining Suitable Time for Agriculture

Suitable Time for Agriculture

Agricultural activities like turning soil, spraying crops, or sowing seeds can’t be done in strong winds. It will transfer the materials and create messes. Hence, prediction of the air movement will help farmers to define a suitable time for working.

#4. Predict Atmospheric Pressure Point

Atmospheric Pressure Point

If you can plot the air movement pattern, it's easy to understand the maximum and minimum pressure points. Based on the wind direction, you can tell how far away you're from the high-pressure point. Also, the speed will forecast how fast the nearby regions are going to be affected by the changes.

Predict Atmospheric Pressure Point

Image source

From the above plotting, we can easily understand the air pressure point of the entire region. The direction and speed help to understand near future weather trends and possibilities in climate change.

Related: Know details about barometric and atmospheric pressure

#5. Ventilate the House Well

Ventilate the House Well

It's an open secret that a well-ventilated home is important for both its own longevity and ensuring good health for people living. If you know the wind direction, you can control the flow of air by opening the right windows.

So the air flows throughout and gets the odor, moisture, and pollutants out.

#6. Safe Landing and Take-off at the Airport

Safe Landing and Take-off at the Airport

Airports are designed keeping the wind direction of the region in mind. It's not safe for an airplane or a helicopter to take off or land in unfavorable weather conditions. Consequently, knowing the parameters help the authority to organize flights safely.

#7. Designing Building Structures

Designing Building Structures

Wind speed has an impact on high-rise buildings and towers. So architectures and construction engineers use the air movement pattern of a specific place to design the constructions in a way that easily passes through the air.

#8. Safe Marine Navigation

Safe Marine Navigation

Air movement has a greater impact on the surface level of water of the ocean. It creates steep waves by moving the water from the floor. With that in mind, sailing in strong winds can cause serious damages to ships, boats, or even lives.

So it’s always good to know the condition of the wind.

#9. Make Perfect Recreation Time

Perfect Recreation Time

Bad weather condition isn't suitable for any sports. Particularly, if you're playing tennis or badminton as part of recreation and physical exercise, the air movement should be very close to zero. Besides, riding a balloon can be very exhausting if the wind speed and direction aren't favorable.

Which Instrument Is Used To Measure Wind Speed and Direction?

There’re several wind direction and speed measurement tools. In this segment, we'll give you a detailed overview of that.



It's the most used tool by meteorologists for measuring pressure and speed. Basically, it's constructed using four or three cups attached to horizontal arms joined together in a central axis. 

And the idea is that when the air starts to blow and push into the same directional cups, they’ll start to move in a circular direction around the axis.

The speedier the wind is, the faster it’ll rotate. Hence, the speed is calculated using formulas for the number of rotations per minute.

Wind Vane

Wind Vane

Meteorologists use this instrument to measure wind direction. It’s called wind vane or weathercock made like an arrow with balancing weight towards the point.

When air pushes, the weather vane will point towards the direction of the source it is coming from.



It’s a very basic tool that you may create one at home. However, commercial windsocks are professionally made with a special type of fabric. Then it’s attached to a long pole so that the sock can fly horizontally when air blows.

There are strip lines that will indicate wind speed. And the direction is identified by seeing the direction the sock is flying since it can rotate around the pole. We consider this is one of the cost-effective solutions.

Doppler radar

Doppler radar

It's a special type of radar that uses microwave single to determine the position and motion of an object. It's called Doppler Effect for creating velocity data. When the microwave single is returned, the radar analyzes how it has been affected thus, creating a measurement.

If the returned signal length is shorter, it’s means something coming closer. Alternatively, if the wavelength is longer, something is moving away.

Different Ways to Measuring Wind Speed & Direction at Home

Velocity units such as MPS(Miles Per Hour) or KPH (Kilometre Per Hour) are used for wind speed measurement. And the unit ‘Degree’ is used for direction due North.

While there are several tools for that, not all are suitable for measuring winds direction and speed at home. Such as setting up a Doppler radar, traditional anemometer, or wind vane is too much costly and tedious.

With that in mind, we're going to point out how exactly you can get things done at home as an individual –

1. Using a Digital Anemometer Wind Vane

Digital Anemometer Wind Vane

Both Anemometer and Wind Vanes can be combined. So you can measure direction, speed, and the strength of gusts at the same time. It’s used to study the weather pattern of a region. Interestingly, there’re digital weather stations available.

Unlike traditional vanes, they are compact and easy to use with Wi-Fi connectivity and digital display. Such as, we found this Ambient WiFi Smart Weather Station.

It's an amazing kit to use in your home! Remarkably, it's a battery-powered device that uses sunlight as the power source. With the color LCD, you're able to read all essential weather parameters in one place.

Apart from that, you can measure room temperature, UV radiation, and humidity. Lastly, if you're eager to learn how does an anemometer measures speed of wind,

here's the formula;

  • Instantaneous Wind Speed = Anemometer Factor x Instantaneous Shaft Speed
  • Average Wind Speed = Anemometer Factor x (Number of Turns / Time)

2. Using Windsocks

Using Windsocks

As said earlier, windsocks can help to read speed and direction. They are made of plain color fabric with indicator bands on them. Each band means a specific velocity range measured in the Knots unit.

So for example, if one band is flying horizontally and it means 3 knots, fully flying with all 3 bands will indicate the wind speed is something more or equal to 9 knots. As shown in the picture below…!

With one caveat, high-quality tools will give you accurate results. It's because the fabric quality and precision matter a lot. You may check out our favorite one at Amazon is the Qishi Wind Measurement Sock.

This incredible gear is made of durable Nylon material. So that ensures a long life span protecting from damages by the outdoor environment. Besides, the precise construction makes it easily fly and give accurate wind measurement capabilities.

The bright orange and reflective fluorescence belts help to easily read from further away. This one is about 30 inches long with 8 inches air inlet. However, there are two other options 40” and 60” to choose from.

Not to forget, this ready-to-use windsock is very simple to get started with. You can use it in agriculture, industries, or meteorology for sure!

How to Measure Wind Speed without an Anemometer?

Windsocks and Doppler radars can be a great alternative to the anemometer. However, there're still several other effective and lifesaving methods left to measure the condition of the wind. Some of them include –



Just like weathervanes or windsocks, you may attach a pinwheel on a pole. Adjust it in a way that the pinwheel can rotate independently of the pole. This also measures wind direction and speed. However, calculation of speed with a pinwheel might not be that easy.

Water Waves

Water Waves

This is a natural sign of air movement. When air moves, it causes the surface-level water to transfer from one position to another. And the results we see are waves. Hence, the direction is towards the direction of the waves are going but speed has to be guessed!

Smoke from Chimneys

Smoke from Chimneys

If you see industrial chimneys around, it's easy to determine wind direction by seeing how the smoke moves in one direction. However, just like seeing waves over the sea, it's hard to achieve a theoretical value of speed.

Using Index Finger

Using Index Finger

This technique is life-saving for survival enthusiasts. If there are no tools, no other options, soak your index finger and keep it standing straight in the air. If air is blowing around you, it should go over your finger and cool down.

Now, observe which side of the finger dries first and the direction of the wind is that. However, this method isn't very effective always.

Particularly, if it's hot summer or a high humid closed room, you'll get compromised results. Besides, it only informs you about direction but not speed.

Spreading Dust into the Air

Spreading Dust into the Air

The last technique is yet another no-cost alternative to anemometers. You may try it out when there are no other options left.

So what you do is grab a handful of dust like sand, then put your hand up above the waist. Now, let it fall through the air.

And the air will blow it off towards the direction of the wind. This is again a very simple yet cost-saving, fastest, and effective solution to understand wind intensity. However, you'll have to be highly careful not to blow specks of dust into your eyes and nose.

What are the Factors That Affect Wind Direction

Wind alone can't make too much change in its nature. There are a few factors that play an important role and affect the wind direction. It's basically the Force, and they include –

Pressure Gradient Force

It’s the result of atmospheric pressure that pushes air to transfer. The Sun is the catalyst here that heat up the Atmosphere to create this pressure. Hence, the air in the high-pressure area starts to move in a low-pressure area causing the wind to blow.

Coriolis Force

It's the force that rotates the Earth counter-clockwise. Hence, the wind is forced towards the northern hemisphere and it deflects to the right but to the left in the southern hemisphere. So the wind will change direction for that.

It is determined by the law –

Coriolis force = – 2x mass (angular velocity x tangential velocity)

Friction Force

Because of the Earth's rotation, air also moves since it has mass velocity. As a result, the uneven part of the earth creates frictional force with air. This will eventually lead to high airflow in some places.

Tips to Get Perfect Measurement

If you're new to any of the given techniques, it can be a little bit confusing to get a perfect wind measurement. With that in mind, we've laid this section to help you get accurate results each time with ease –

  • Use smart and digital anemometers that shows output in digits
  • Use a windsock made of high-quality fabric
  • Build quality of the windsock needs to be precise to rotate easily
  • Use large-sized windsocks to read clearly from a long distance
  • If you get the weather parameters, check values manually using the formulas
  • Wind speed isn't consistent, so measure a few times to calculate average

People Also Ask:

1. What unit is wind direction measured in?

The unit for wind direction measurement is degree. And it’s relative to true north so it’s 90° if it is easterly or, blowing from east. Consequently, the southerly wind has a direction of 180 degrees. Then, the westerly wind will be referred to as 270 degrees.

2. What 2 ways is wind measured?

The wind is measured in velocity unit for speed and degree unit for direction. An anemometer can calculate speed by the formula;

  • Average Wind Speed = Anemometer Factor x (Number of Turns / Time).

Also, weather vanes are known for identifying direction. However, both of these tools are found to be combined and can be used to calculate both at the same time.

3. Is wind measured in knots?

Knot (nautical mile per hour = 0.51 m sec-1 = 1.15 mph) is used for wind speed calculation. It’s used in marine and airport navigation systems or even in the study of meteorology. Knot is written as “kt” or “kts" when used as a plural.

Final Words

That’s the end of it…we hope now you know how is wind measured!

To summarize, smart digital anemometers or commercial windsocks are great for anyone looking to invest a little chunk of money for the best or effortless results.

But you may always use other techniques to get rid of the situation where needed. All in all, this guide is a complete solution for folks looking to learn more about the nature of wind and its measurement hacks.

If you really find it useful, don’t forget to make it go viral!

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