WIND: What is it, Anyway?

I received an email from a freshman college student today.  She said that for her speech class she was given the assignment of delivering a speech on the wind, so she had some questions for me.  Then, this evening, after the 6:30pm broadcast, I asked my floor director here at Channel 4 if he knows what wind is.  He said, “I know what it is.  I just can’t really explain it well.”  At that moment, my blog idea for tonight was born!

In short, WIND is just moving air!

Wind can be created mechanically.  If you stand on a sidewalk beside busy traffic, you’ll feel a breeze.  That breeze will at least in part be due to moving cars and trucks stirring the air.  If you open or close a door quickly, a breeze is also created, so much so that loose papers nearby might blow around.

In meteorology, wind is caused by differences in air pressure.  Wind always blows from higher pressure toward lower pressure.  SO….wind blows outward from the big blue “H”s (areas of high pressure) you sometimes see on the weather maps I show.  Meanwhile, wind blows toward the big red “L”s — areas of low pressure.  The image below demonstrates this air flow.  Side notes:  areas of low pressure are associated with clouds and often times, precipitation.  Strong areas of low pressure are essentially storm systems.

DT

 

Now….pressure differences in our atmosphere are often triggered by temperature differences.  Consider the North Pole during winter.  The sun doesn’t shine there for weeks!  SO….the air gets tremendously cold.  Since cold air is more dense than warm air, an area of high pressure forms.  This new area of high pressure helps create wind.

DT_NorthernLights.png

 

The sun is the chief factor in creating temperature differences here on Earth.  SO, the sun is responsible for much of the wind we feel in our day-to-day life!

DT_BrightSunshine

The breeze today will be back again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day!  Coming up tonight on Channel 4 News at 10pm, we’ll talk about what that means to our temperatures this week!

DT

 

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2 Responses to WIND: What is it, Anyway?

  1. Hank Skelton says:

    Yes, wind is moving air. So why do weather reporters say “Winds are calm”?

    • Dan Thomas says:

      Good observation, Hank! Technically, we SHOULD say “there’s no wind” or “it’s calm”. When we refer to “the wind” when giving the airport’s weather observation, we’re actually meaning the “wind report”. The wind report is part of every weather observation. SO….in saying the wind is calm, we actually mean the wind report is calm.

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