Has this year felt particularly windy to you? If so, you may be on to something. The bottom line up front, yes it has been windier. The KX Storm Team now has the data to prove it.
Here are the average sustained winds (below) from the last 30 years compared to this year for the 2021-2022 winter. You’ll notice our winds this year were higher than normal. Keep in mind that this is an average of sustained winds. We felt winds from calm to well over 40 miles per hour at times. It also doesn’t factor in wind gusts.
A windrose is a graphic that shows where the winds predominantly came from and how strong they were. Below is the windrose for Bismarck for the month of February 2022. Which happened to be the windiest February for Bismarck in three decades. You’ll notice we nearly doubled our time with 20+ MPH winds. That’s denoted by the red bar inside the windrose.
You may be asking, why was it so windy? Greg Gust is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. He’s done extensive research on our wind not only over the decades but particularly comparing this year with the last thirty years. He contributed some of our windiness to the pattern we were in.
“This year, we were right under that nasty storm track all through December, January, most of February and then we broke out of it for a while,” says Gust.
That pattern he’s talking about is our textbook La Nina pattern we have been under all winter with a mainly northwesterly flowing jet stream. The storm track brought system after system out of the northwest and right over North Dakota. If you weren’t impacted by the snow, you were impacted by the wind.
In Gust’s research, he found that for this last winter, the state of North Dakota had fifteen windstorm days of either blizzard, ground blizzard, or high wind warning criteria being met. That’s the highest number recorded in the past 27 years. He also found this was the windiest winter since 1989 for Bismarck, Minot, Grand Forks, and Fargo.
Gust adds, “People recognize this is an incredibly brutal winter. And it is in comparison… to last winter which was so mild. We are an area with great variability and it’s day to day, week to week, month to month. We have the highest variability in temperature and precipitation and as this shows wind.”