Wind Theory: Wind Speed

We just finished going over Wind Direction in our Wind Theory series.  Now, it is time for us to talk about Wind Speed!

Wind speed can be discussed using several units of measurement, but generally we use knots or the Beaufort Scale.

Knots are formally used for measuring speed over water.  Since wind blows over both surfaces, knots is used to measure wind.  This may be converted and expressed as miles per hour or kilometers per hour simply for ease of understanding for general population.

The Beaufort Scale was originally developed in 1805 by British Naval Commander Francis Beaufort to measure wind at sea.  The scale has been modified over the years (since we aren´t measuring wind effects on a big ship!).  In the absence of any tool to measure the wind, being familiar with this scale can be very helpful!

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There are a few ways to check the actual wind speed besides the Beaufort Scale (which…to be honest..takes a bit of time to really understand and apply).

If you are already on the beach, an anemometer can be a great tool!  Currently, there are two types to choose from:

  1. Ultrasound
  2. Mechanical

While ultrasound anemometers are more accurate, they are also less affordable.  Some handheld anemometers, like the Vaavud wind meter, plugs into your smart phone (eliminating the need for batteries and a heavier device).

Some beaches have wind meters installed at the location.  This is AMAZING, especially if you live relatively close.  You just need to check the app or website and, when the wind comes up, hop in your car and head to the beach!  If you are on the beach and want to double check the wind speed before setting up your kite, just check the website!

A popular one is ikitesurf.  I really like this one because it provides an easy to read graph showing actual wind speed in relation to the forecasted wind speed.  This website is worth the subscription if they have a wind meter at your local riding spot.  If there is no meter, you are probably better checking the free forecast on windguru or windfinder.  We will get more into that later in the next part of the Wind Theory series.

Here in Chile, we have Windonline.  It is a relatively new site, but covers the big kite spots in a way that didn´t really exist before.  It will be even more exciting when they have enough data to really provide statistics on wind tendencies over the course of a year.  In our experience, windguru provides decent forecasts (meaning that if it says it will be windy, it is.. but the wind speed is generally forecasted lower than the actual wind speed).

Up next to bring together wind direction and wind speed, we are going to look at wind and weather forecasts!

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