Learning About Wind Speed & Why It’s Important

Weather predictions are readily available in many different mediums. Turning on your computer/TV/radio or opening a paper will give you an instant idea of, among other meteorological variations, wind speed. This is a generalised picture of what the wind will be doing, and is useful as you will not want to venture out if there is no wind predicted, or the wind speed is likely to average more than 30mph (50kph). To get a more accurate idea, consult any local press, as local wind effects can cancel or reverse the winds of larger weather patterns.

Once you are in your chosen spot, you need to check the wind speed to make sure it is not too strong for your kite, your size, the sport you are practising, and your ability. Ideally this is done with an anemometer, the more expensive the better.

However, do not blindly choose your kite based on your wind meter, as the density of the wind makes a big difference. A summer wind often has less power than a winter wind even if it registers the same speed, and ‘wet’ wind will pack more of a punch than a dry one.

You can also gauge wind speed by looking at the signs around you and using Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort’s Scale. The Beaufort Scale (shown below) has been adapted for use on land as well as water and uses a value called ‘force’ for qualifying the speed of the wind. To ensure accuracy when assessing wind speed, try and use the highest indicator possible, for example the top branches of a tree.

DescriptionWind Speed (Knots)Wind Speed (Km)ForceLandWater
Calm0-10-10Smoke rises vertically.Water is like a mirror.
Light air2-31-51Smoke drifts and indicates direction.Small ripples on water.
Light breeze4-66-112Wind felt on face.
Leaves in trees are moving.
Small wavelets.
Gentle breeze7-1012-193Small flags flap.
Leaves move constantly.
Large wavelets.
Moderate breeze11-1620-284Small branches move.Some crests at sea.
Fresh breeze17-2129-385Bushes and small trees sway.Many crests at sea.
Strong breeze22-2739-496Wind now whistles.
Most branches in trees moving.
Crests everywhere at sea.
Near gale28-3350-617Whole trees sway, hard to walk into the wind.Much bigger waves.
Gale34-4062-748Twigs breaking in trees.Foam in well marked streaks.
All boats head in.
Strong gale41-4775-889Roofs of buildings become damaged.Low visibility due to spray.
Storm48-5589-10210Trees uprooted.
Buildings become damaged.
High seas over 8m (25ft).
Violent storm56-63103-11711Widespread damage to buildings.High seas over 10m (32ft).
HurricaneOver 63Over 11712Devastation.High seas over 14m (45ft).