Why are we so windy?

Weather Whys

It’s a common question here in North Dakota, why are we so windy?

First, let’s define what exactly makes the wind. Air molecules are constantly moving around and colliding with each other. All of those collisions can cause friction… and over a given area, those collisions cause pressure. The pressure differences are what cause the wind. You often see these pressure differences on a weather map noted with “H” for high pressure and “L” for low pressure.

There are a few different reasons as to why we would have wind. The first happens with high and low-pressure air masses are meeting. At their interactions, you can have a tight pressure gradient which will cause a lot of wind.

Another reason would be when a warm or cold front moves through… or the jet stream is overhead. These all stir up the atmosphere which in turn stirs up with wind. A third option would be when the wind is squeezed between buildings our mountain passes. You can create wind when you’re driving through a tunnel. You’re squeezing air through the tunnel. This is the same principle.

So while there are many reasons as to why we have wind, there are a few seasons you may have noticed are a little windier than others. Spring and Fall are typically the windiest for us because these are transitional periods. You’re more likely to have very warm air meeting very cold air during these seasons. The pressure differences caused by hot and cold air will create wind.

Because we are a mostly flat state with not a lot of trees or mountains, the wind is free to sweep across North Dakota without friction to stop it. So many of the typically flatter states – like the Great Plains – can be windier than other parts of the country for this reason

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