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Wind radar – measure wind force and wind speed

We encounter strong and weak winds everywhere in everyday life. However, the stronger the force, the more dangerous they can become. A wind radar shows easily shows how strong winds blow and in which direction.

How the wind radar works

The digital wind map is a map that shows the weather, in this case specifically winds, at the moment and with a forecast. Small moving dots with different colors and directions represent the strength and course of the gusts. On the map, it is possible to see how the wind situation is and may develop in certain areas of the world. In this way, dangerous storms can be predicted and areas of high and low pressure can be identified.

To do this, a wind radar sends electromagnetic signals into the atmosphere via antennas. Different weather phenomena such as wind, snow or rain send them back with varying intensity. Based on the data, the system can draw conclusions about the weather, its strength and direction. This is then used to create the digital wind map.

What do the colors in the wind radar mean?

The colors represent different wind intensities and can be read from the legend. The speed is measured in kilometers per hour.

A distinction is made between weak and strong winds, the colors of which are differentiated. Blue stands for gentle winds with a speed of approximately 1 to 23,6 mph, yellow for 23,6-45,9 mph. If the color becomes red, the wind also becomes dangerous: the wind force here can range from 46 mph to over 72,7 mph. The latter is rated as a hurricane. The latter is considered a hurricane.

Different types of wind and their origin

There are different types of wind that a weather radar can measure. These include, for example, the trade winds, which blow from one region to another. This happens to create a pressure balance between an area of high pressure and an area of low pressure. Such often form due to temperature differences in different regions.

Prevailing winds form when the sun warms the earth and air rises into the air. Cool air sinks to the ground and winds create a balance here as well, which takes place close to the earth.

A jet stream, on the other hand, is a wind at a high altitude. It is hardly noticeable on the ground, but it has a significant influence on weather conditions and the strength of other winds. You can imagine a jet stream like a fast air belt in the atmosphere.

The speed of the air currents is measured to determine the wind strength. This used to be a difficult task until Francis Beaufort invented the anemometer in 1806. The device consists of small shells that rotate in a circle around an axis driven by wind. The higher the strength, the faster the movement. A computer calculates the wind strength from this and gives the speed in kilometers per hour or miles. The intensity can be read directly using the Beaufort scale from these figures.

The famous scale – the Beaufort wind scale

Wind Force Description km/h m/s kn mph
0 Calm 0 – 1 0,0 – <0,3 0 – <1 0 – <1,2
1 Light Air 1 – 5 0,3 – <1,6 1 – <4 1,2 – <4,6
2 Light Breeze 6 – 11 1,6 – <3,4 4 – <7 4,6 – <8,1
3 Gentle Breeze 12 – 19 3,4 – <5,5 7 – <11 8,1 – <12,7
4 Moderate Breeze 20 – 28 5,5 – <8,0 11 – <16 12,7 – <18,4
5 Strong Breeze 29 – 38 8,0 – <10,8 16 – <22 18,4 – <25,3
6 Strong Breeze 39 – 49 10,8 – <13,9 22 – <28 25,3 – <32,2
7 Near Gale 50 – 61 13,9 – <17,2 28 – <34 32,2 – <39,1
8 Gale Wind 62 – 74 17,2 – <20,8 34 – <41 39,1 – <47,2
9 Strong Gale 75 – 88 20,8 – <24,5 41 – <48 47,2 – <55,2
10 Storm 89 – 102 24,5 – <28,5 48 – <56 55,2 – <64,4
11 Violent Storm 103 – 117 28,5 – <32,7 56 – <64 64,4 – <73,6
12 Hurricane ≥ 117 ≥ 32,7 ≥ 64 ≥ 73,6

The Beaufort wind scale is a scale created by the inventor of the same name, on which you can divide the wind intensity into categories based on the speed. The decisive factor is the effect that a wind of a certain speed has on the environment. Thus, the scale ranges from wind force 0 – calm, to wind force 5 – fresh breeze, to wind force 12 – hurricane. The strength can also be easily calculated: Take the speed of the wind in knots plus 5 and divide the result by 5.

Is force 12 wind dangerous?

Force 12 is considered a hurricane according to the Beaufort scale. The wind has a speed of more than 73 mph and is marked strongly red on the wind radar. A hurricane can have dangerous consequences, as the wind can tear branches from trees, uproot trees, and fling loose things across the ground. Damage to buildings or problems driving cars due to the storm are also possible. Winds of force 12 are rare, but leave great devastation in their wake. In general, caution is advised from category 5, and from 10 you should not leave the house if possible.


Winds are fascinating phenomena of nature, but depending on their intensity they can also be dangerous. A wind radar determines the weather by electromagnetic signals and is recorded in a digital wind radar or wind map. Forecasts are also possible, as you know them from the weather report. The Beaufort scale divides winds into categories and determines the potential danger to the environment based on their speed. If the weather map shows red, you’d better stay at home.