Why Are There Wind Gusts?

Thursday was a very windy day across North Texas. The wind gusted over 40 mph at several locations, and up to 52 mph in McKinney.

We know that wind is nothing more than air moving from high pressure to low pressure, but why does it gust? Why are there bursts of stronger winds that only last for a short time?  Let's take a look.

The wind is typically much stronger thousands of feet above the surface of the Earth. This is because the wind is not dealing with the friction of the ground to slow it down.

On any given day, once the sun rises, it starts to warm the ground and the air just above the ground.  That warm air begins to rise.

The rising air means that somewhere else nearby, there is air that is sinking. This rising and sinking air is known as mixing. The more the atmosphere heats up, the more mixing takes place.

As the mixing eventually reaches much higher altitudes, some of the stronger wind at those altitudes is mixed down to the surface producing a higher velocity wind gust.

This process of mixing generally lasts until the sun sets and the atmosphere cools off. Once that happens, the mixing stops and the stronger winds remain well above the surface. This is why nights are usually not as windy as days.  Now you know, mixing leads to wind gusts.

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