A Brief History
On May 3, 1999, the state of Oklahoma experienced a catastrophic weather event known as the “1999 Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak.” A series of tornadoes that lasted from May 2nd to May 8th, the highest wind speed recorded during the twisters was an incredible 301 mph, plus or minus 20 mph.
But of course, that is tornadic wind speed. Wind as measured as normal high-speed wind along the surface of the Earth has a lower record velocity. A candidate for the highest wind speed on Earth occurred at Barrow Island, Australia in 1996, an umbrella shattering 253 mph. But that was an unmanned station and the record wind speed at a manned weather station was at Mount Washington, New Hampshire back in 1934, a brisk 231 mph.
High above the surface of the Earth, the Jet Stream wind can blow as much as 275 mph, enough to drastically effect the flight of high flying aircraft. On the planet Neptune, winds can reach an unreal 1100 mph, while wind at a Black Hole can reach 125 million mph!
Question for students (and subscribers): What is the highest wind you have experienced? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Chiras, Dan. Power from the Wind – 2nd Edition: A Practical Guide to Small Scale Energy Production. New Society Publishers, 2017.
Woofenden, Ian. Wind Power For Dummies. For Dummies, 2009.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Daphne Zaras of one of several tornadoes observed by the en:VORTEX-99 team on May 3, 1999, in central Oklahoma, is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made as part of an employee’s official duties.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.