Ask Josh: What Causes Wind?

Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick explains what causes the wind to blow.


Its been quit windy lately across our region.  Some areas had winds gust to more than 70 miles per hour.  That's nearly hurricane force!  With all these wind storms lately, some of you may be wondering what causes the wind to blow in the first place?

Recently I got a question on my "what causes a tornado" blog from Katy, she asks: "I have a question for you that I would like for you to answer if you would please. What is wind? What makes it blow? Where does it come from? Thanks!!!"

Wind is air in motion. It is produced by the uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. Since the earth’s surface is made of various land and water formations, it absorbs the sun’s radiation unevenly. Two factors are necessary to specify wind: speed and direction.

As the sun warms the Earth's surface, the atmosphere warms too. Some parts of the Earth receive direct rays from the sun all year and are always warm. Other places receive indirect rays, so the climate is colder. Warm air, which weighs less than cold air, rises. Then cool air moves in and replaces the rising warm air. This movement of air is what makes the wind blow.

Air flows from high to low pressure areas.  The stronger and closer these high and low pressure areas are to one another, the stronger the wind speed.  Typically late winter and early spring is the windiest time of the year.  That's because we have huge temperature swings along with strong areas of high and low pressure that produce windy conditions.

Keep those great questions coming!  Be sure to leave your questions and comments below.  Thanks for reading!


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