Weather Whys

By Texas A&M University —

Q: Some days, it's very breezy, and other days, there seems to be no wind at all. What causes wind?

A: There are several reasons why it's windy one day, and calm the
next, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. Wind is caused
by air flowing from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure,
he explains. “Add to that the rotation of the Earth,” he adds. “The
Earth's rotation also affects air flow.

And during daylight hours, the heat from the ground causes a
convective reaction to occur, meaning heat is moving away from the
Earth's surface and sunlight causes an excess of energy buildup. At
night, the convection is much less, meaning winds die down. Nature is
always trying to balance things out, and the result of trying to balance
and equalize pressure from one area to another results in wind.”

Q: Are there different kinds of wind?

A: Winds that blow uphill are called upslope winds, and winds that
blow downhill are called downslope winds, McRoberts adds. “Winds that
blow from large bodies of water inland are called sea breezes. Santa Ana
winds are dry winds that can fan forest fires, especially in
California. The U.S. has some of the windiest weather on Earth. In fact,
the highest wind speed ever recorded in the U.S. occurred April 12,
1934, on Mount Washington, N.H. For a few seconds, the wind blew an
incredible 231 miles per hour.”


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