Wind direction

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An example of a wind vane

Wind direction is reported by the direction from which it originates. For example, a northerly wind blows from the north to the south.[1] Wind direction is usually reported in cardinal directions or in azimuth degrees. For example, a wind coming from the south is given as 180 degrees; one from the east is 90 degrees. Wind Direction Scientists use both numbers and letters on a compass to measure wind direction. On the compass below the letter N stands for North, S stands for South, E stands for East, and W stands for West. In order to be more specific, the letters NE are used for Northeast, SE for southeast, SW for Southwest and NW for Northwest. You can also see that the compass is divided into 360 degrees around the circle. The North position equals zero, and the degrees increase as you move around the compass clockwise until you reach 360 degrees back at the North position.

Measurement methods[edit]

There are a variety of instruments used to measure wind direction, such as the windsock and wind vane. Both of these instruments work by moving to minimize air resistance. The way a weather vane is pointed by prevailing winds indicates the direction from which the wind is blowing. The larger opening of a windsock faces the direction that the wind is blowing from; its tail, with the smaller opening, points in the direction the wind is blowing.

Modern instruments used to measure wind speed and direction are called anemometers and wind vanes respectively. These types of instruments are used by the wind energy industry, both for wind resource assessment and turbine control.

In primitive situations where these modern instruments are not available, a person can use the index finger to test the direction of wind. This would be done by wetting the finger and pointing it upwards. Thus, the side of the finger which feels cool is the direction from which wind is blowing. The coolness is caused by an increased rate of evaporation of the moisture on the finger due to the air flow across the finger, and thus the "finger technique" of measuring wind direction does not work well in either very humid or very hot conditions. The same principle is used to measure the dew point (using a sling psychrometer, a more accurate instrument than the human finger). One may also take a pinch of grass and drop it; the direction that the grass falls is the direction the wind is blowing. This last technique is often used by golfers because it allows them to gauge the strength of the wind as well.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ JetStream (2008). "How to read weather maps". National Weather Service. Retrieved 2009-05-16.