|WIND DIRECTION AND WEATHER FORECASTING
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
The wind direction will have an important influence on the expected weather. You can often be given a wind
direction and you will have a pretty good idea of how the weather will change and what weather can be
expected with that wind direction.
The typical wind direction that a location has for a certain time of the year is called the
prevailing wind. When the wind is from
the prevailing direction then the weather is generally typical. When
the wind shifts away from the prevailing direction then it often indicates atypical or changing
For your forecast location, note what type of environment is located in every direction from the location.
Take Dallas for example, toward the southeast is the moisture source of the Gulf of Mexico; toward
the east is the typically warm and humid southeast; toward the north are the plains which
can bring in cooler air in the cool season; toward the west and southwest is a very dry high elevation
climate; toward the south
is the transition between the coastal area and dry portions of Texas. A wind from the north in Dallas
will tend to bring in cooler and drier air; a wind from the southwest will bring in very dry air; a
wind from the southeast will bring in warm and humid air. Just by noting the wind direction a
forecaster gains an idea of what type of
air mass is moving toward the forecast area.
Wind direction changes often accompany changes in the weather. The air flows cyclonically around
low pressure systems. If the wind changes direction in a cyclonic fashion it often
means a low pressure or front is influencing the forecast area. A wind shifting from the south
often means warmer air is approaching and a wind from the north often means cooler air
is approaching. When the wind changes abruptly it could be a frontal passage or wind
direction change caused by
When the wind speeds are light then a change in wind direction is not as significant. You may
have heard the phrase "winds will be light and variable". When the winds are light it
indicates there is not much of a steering current to move the wind. When winds are light, mesoscale
influences will tend to start influencing wind direction. The winds can continue shifting from
a variety of directions when winds are light.
analyzing MOS data make sure to note the wind speed and direction over the course of the
forecast period. That information alone can give you clues to what weather to expect.