“Welcome, wild North-Easter Shame it is to see, Odes to every zephyr, Ne’er a verse to thee.” — Charles Kinsley, “Prose Idylls,” 1873
Nor is it likely that anyone who has ever been caught in a North-Easter will write a paean to this notorious bringer of storms.
Ancient peoples believed that the wind was related the breath of gods. The Arabic word for wind, ruh, also means breath and spirit, while the Greek word, pneuma and the Latin word, animus, imply soul.
We now know that wind is created as a result of the Earth’s being warmed by the sun. Different areas of land and water (and the surrounding air) heat up at different rates. As air’s temperature increases, its molecules expand and it becomes lighter. As this warm air rises, cooler air shifts to take its place. We experience this movement of air as blowing wind. Taking this quiz should be a breeze.
1. The arrow on a weathervane points:
A. To the direction the wind is coming from.
B. To the direction the wind is blowing.
2. When the forecast refers to easterly winds, this means that the winds are blowing:
A. West to east
B. East to west
3. At what speed do most humans feel a wind?
A. Half-mile per hour
B. 1 to 2 mph
C. 2 to 3 mph
D. 3 to 4 mph
4. In ancient times, wind speeds were measured by their ability to pluck live chickens. British physicist Robert Hooke invented a more accurate method in 1667. His instrument, which was used to up until when radar began to track winds’ speeds, is called a(n):
5. The Beaufort wind scale measures the speed of wind based on:
A. Human observations
6. Boaters on the Chesapeake should be familiar with the Marine Wind Warnings Scale. Match these selected categories to their wind speeds:
A. Gales ( 3 categories from moderate gale to strong gale):
C. Small craft (7 categories from calm to strong breeze):
D. Storm: (these wind speeds are very rare on land)
E. Whole Gale: (these wind speeds seldom occur on land)
a. up to 31 mph
b. 32–54 mph
c. 55-63 mph
e. 75+ mph
7. The total windpower in the Earth’s atmosphere has been estimated at:
A. 36 million kilowatts
B. 360 million kilowatts
C. 3.6 billion kilowatts
D. 36 billion kilowatts
8. What Bay state is home to these cities: Windber, Wind Gap, Breezewood & Windsor?
9. What Bay state is home to these cities: Mt. Airy & Windsor?
10. What Bay state is home to these cities: Windyhill & Mount Airy?
* Quote in headline is from William Shakespeare’s “Winter’s Tale.”
Too Hot to Handle? Bodies in space must have an atmosphere to have wind. Mercury and our moon are windless; the former because any atmosphere it might have once had has long since burned off, the latter because its gravitational pull is to weak to hold one.
An Ill Wind? Fifty percent of all heart attacks and strokes occur when the wind is blowing 15–25 miles per hour.
Thrown a Curve: The Earth is spinning to the east, deflecting moving objects, including the wind, from moving along a straight path. In the Northern Hemisphere, this means that winds tend to curve a bit to the right. In the Southern Hemisphere, winds curve slightly to the left. This is known as the Coriolis Effect, named for its discoverer, Gaspard C. Coriolis.