WeatherTalk: Reported winds are often not peak winds

Peak wind is essentially unknowable at any specific location.

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FARGO —- Following a wind storm such as the ones that swept through parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota Monday evening and night, many people cleaning up storm damage are left wondering about the peak wind speeds at their location. Unfortunately, peak wind is essentially unknowable at any specific location. There are numerous wind gauges (anemometers) around the region, but these are only capable of measuring the wind at the points of their locations.

During a thunderstorm, a measured wind speed from some location nearby is unlikely to be even an approximate representation of the wind at your location. We can make estimates of wind speeds based on the types of wind damage, but these are only rough estimates. We simply cannot determine precise wind speeds at points of damage. We cannot say what the wind speed was at your house.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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