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Atmosphere Academy: How Do You Measure Wind?

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Each week meteorologist Jerry Jackson answers student’s questions in the Atmosphere Academy. This week’s question was asked in a different way than usual, so we’re going to answer it the same way: in sign language.

No forecast would be accurate without first knowing what the weather is doing right now, and to know the current conditions, you need the proper instruments. Class is in session at Lincoln Elementary School.

Lincoln Elementary School student, Dulce Castillo asks “How Do You Measure Wind?”

That’s a good question, Dulce. Most folks are familiar with thermometers for measuring temperatures, barometers for measuring pressure, but there’s a special instrument we use to measure wind speed, the anemometer.

Probably the most familiar type of anemometers for meteorologists is the cup anemometer. A set of 3 or 4 cups is allowed to freely rotate on an established axis. As the wind speed increases, the cups turn faster, registering a wind speed extrapolated from the speed of the cups.

Perhaps more familiar to consumers is the “windmill” or propeller-style of anemometer. As wind blows through the device, the propeller turns and registers a corresponding measurement. A drawback to the propeller method is the fact that the unit must be positioned in the right direction to catch the wind, which is why a tail or rudder is often applied.

There are many other different types and designs of anemometers, some more durable than others. Naturally, few man-made devices can survive the winds of a strong tornado. In these events, wind speeds are often estimated based on the damage produced by the storm.

For the Atmosphere Academy, I’m meteorologist Jerry Jackson with a little help from the students of Lincoln Elementary School. Class Dismissed

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Story summary

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Each week meteorologist Jerry Jackson answers student’s questions in the Atmosphere Academy. This week’s question was asked in a different way than usual, so we’re going to answer it the same way: in sign language.

Story summary image

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