Why so windy in the winter?

By: Chris Michaels

Wind has been a big talking point in the eastern U.S. this past week, with multiple high wind alerts issued. It begs the question of why things get so windy, and who is usually the windiest city in the U.S.

This is where we get a little technical. Air tends to move from high pressure to low pressure, to essentially fill the void. An invisible force, called the Coriolis force, deflects the air to the right in the northern hemisphere.

Especially in the Mid-Atlantic states, that air tends to flow then from northwest to southeast. Since the air is moving over the Appalachian Mountains, it will then accelerate east of the mountains. This has lead to gusts of 40-60 mph at times in recent weeks.

Does that make the Mid-Atlantic one of the windier regions? No. Places like Rochester, MN and Amarillo, TX are usually classified as some of the windier cities. Chicago’s nickname, “The Windy City” has some political history to it (even though it does get quite breezy there).

Through the winter and spring, be sure to pay attention for wind alerts issued by your local National Weather Service office. These alerts are usually issued in the event of potential downed trees and power outages.

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