Wind facts

A wind vane turns Friday in a gust outside a home on Norris and 21st Streets.

The American and New Mexico state flags wave gently Friday in the wind outside Yucca Middle School.

"Can you feel the rhythm of the wind in human memory? It is a music in the sky and in men's souls."

Guy Murchie, "Song of the Sky"


The wind blows hats off, skirts up, scatters roof shingles and downs power lines. It is a frequent topic of conversation in the High Plains region.

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If it makes you feel any better, there is no place the wind doesn't blow. It blows least in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the average annual wind speed is a mere 4.1 mph. The highest winds in the U.S occur at Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, where the average wind speed is 35.3 mph. Commonwealth Antarctica has the highest winds on the planet. They regularly reach 200 mph with gusts recorded up to 320 mph. That's faster than some single engine airplanes fly.

In the Clovis-Portales area, the average annual wind speed is 11.6 mph to 12.0 mph, according to the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nev.


Wind is caused by the uneven heating of the earths surface. The areas of earth nearest the sun heat up first. As the warmed air expands, it rises and is displaced by cooler air. This rising and falling movement is called wind.

It is a continuous process dependent upon the earth's constantly changing orientation to the sun.

As long as the earth is round and the sun shines, there will be wind.


A Native American legend attributes the wind to a large bird called Micmac, who produced the wind by flapping his wings.


Chief Meteorologist Steve Kersh of KVII said wind speed is predicted by determining "how close areas of sinking air (high pressure) and rising air (low pressure) are located to each other. The closer they are, the higher the winds. The farther apart they are, the lesser the winds."


Kersh calls the local winds "duster," "gale" and "the high plains wind machine," along with a few other names he says can't be "printed or mentioned on-air." Other familiar names include Santa Ana, nor'easter and squall.

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In the Arabian desert, the wind is called Samiel. Egyptians call it Khamsin.

According to ancient historian Herodotus, the people of Tripoli called the wind Simoom and they once declared war on it. When their wells dried up, they armed themselves with drums and cymbals and marched into the Sahara in protest.


The wind played a critical role in the history of America. It was wind in the sails of the Santa Maria that brought Columbus to American shores.

The wind blew French battle ships across the Atlantic to aid the 13 colonies during the revolutionary war. It powered windmills that watered the colonists crops and livestock.

Silk, saffron and sugar all crossed the ocean by the power of wind. It is a natural resource that drove travel, defense, trade and agriculture in early American colonies.


The wind still feeds us. It is responsible for pollinating crops such as wheat, soybean, corn and maize that feed the world. Imagine what would happen to the world without these staples.


Steve Kersh, chief meteorologist at KVII

— Compiled by Tonjia Rolan

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