Windsocks help people in a range of industries measure the wind direction and speed. This is important in many sectors, such as aviation and energy, and many places are required to display windsocks by law for health and safety. Windsocks are fairly simple instruments which have been measuring wind speed for many years, but it can be difficult to read them unless you know how!
First, you need to understand how windsocks work to be able to use it as a quick reference for wind speed.
How Windsocks Work to Determine Wind Speed
The windsock itself is a large tubular textile which blows around in the wind. It is attached to a pole or a mast and is usually a bright colour such as orange so it can be easily seen from afar. Gusts of wind fill the windsock so it stands erect, or if there is no wind then the fabric will fall loose by the pole.
Getting an indication of wind direction is easy – whichever way the windsock is blowing, the wind is coming from the opposite direction. However, if you need to be more technical, for example at an airport runway, you’ll probably need the help of a compass to determine the exact angle of the wind.
Measuring wind speed
It’s simple to get an indication of wind speed from observing the windsock. You will need to compare the angle of the windsock to the pole frame, with the higher wind speeds producing larger angles.
For example, when the windsock is down and parallel to the pole, there is no wind. A light wind will send the windsock slightly away from the pole, at a close angle. A moderate wind can be detected by a 45˚ angle, and when the fabric is up at 90˚this indicates a strong wind.
However, this is just a quick reference of wind speed, and does not measure the exact speed in knots or miles per hour. Suppliers of windsocks can often provide a handy chart which converts the angle of the windsock into a more accurate wind speed. The size of the windsock and its unique measurements will have an impact on the wind speeds determined by each angle.
If you’d like to find out more about measuring wind speed and getting the most out of your windsock, speak to our team today. We’re always happy to help and offer professional advice.