Residents of southwest Kansas know that the wind can be relentless in this part of the country. But which months have
the windiest afternoons? Which months have lighter winds? To answer these questions, let’s look at wind roses for each month of the year for Dodge City using hourly surface wind observations from 1973 to 2004. There were over 6000 surface weather observations during these years(during the afternoon) at Dodge City.
Exactly what is a wind rose? Wind roses show the percent of time the wind was from a certain wind direction (increments of 10 degrees from 0 to 360 degrees) and percent of time the wind was over a certain wind speed. 360 degrees is a northerly wind(from the north), 90 degrees is an easterly wind, 180 degrees is a southerly wind and 270 degrees is a westerly wind. The legend below each wind rose shows the percent of time the windspeed is calm, light and variable, 0 to 5 knots, 5 to 12 kts, 12 to 20 kts and greater than 20kts. These values can be found on the wind rose by looking up the appropriate cooler on the chart.
Let’s start with the meteorological winter
months of December, January and February. Northerly winds are only slightly
more common than southerly winds in winter. To illustrate direction, the wind rose for December shows the directions
in black. A north wind is 360 degrees(top of wind rose), a south wind 180 degrees(bottom), east wind 90 degrees(right side), and west wind 270 degrees(left side). Anyone who has familiarity with a compass should identify with this.
In December, the wind is from the south a little over 5% of the time. The wind is from the due south at less than
12 kts a little under 2% of the time, and greater than or equal to 12 kts about 3 percent of the time. Due north winds
occur about 7% of the time. The wind is from the due north at greater than 12kts about 4.5 % of the time. The
wind is from the due north about 7% of the time, from the due south about 5% of the time, from the west less than
2% of the time and from the due east far less than 2% of the time. West and east winds are not very common in December. Due west winds occur less than 2% of the time in the afternoon, and when they do occur, they are not very strong(usually 5 to 12 kts and occasionally 12 to 20 kts. This same general pattern holds true for January and February.
In December, the wind is from the south or southwest(160 degrees to 220 degrees) about 30% of the time in the
afternoon and from the north(320 degrees to 020 degrees) about 32.4% of the time. Thus, 62.4% of the time
on December afternoon, the wind is in a range from 160 degrees to 220 degrees or 320 degrees to 20 degrees.
This represents only 39% of the wind directions(0 to 360 degrees every 10 degrees). The other 61% of the
wind directions that span from 230 degrees to 310 degrees and 30 degrees to 150 degrees only occur 37.6 % of
the time on December afternoons. There is a greater percentage of light winds in winter compared to the other
seasons(5 kts or less 6 to 7.4% of the time). January is the month with the highest percentage of light winds in the afternoon(7.4%).
As we transition into spring
, there is a marked increase in wind speed. March and April are the windiest months with only a slight dropoff in May. In March, April and May, the wind is sustained at greater than 20 kts about 21.7%, 22.4% and 16.6% of the time in the afternoon respectively. Only 4.6% of the time in April is the windspeed 5kts or less. Northerly winds and southerly winds are equally as common in March and April. As we go into late spring, the frequency of southerly winds increases by May. By May, a south to south-southeast wind is the most dominant. This is a favorable wind direction for getting gulf moisture into southwest Kansas. This is one reason why May is a stormy month. The wind is 5kts or less
in March, April and May about 4.6,4.6 and 5.4% of the time respectively.
months are characterized by a steady south wind that is fairly dependable from day to day. Of course the windspeeds do vary some, and fronts(with northerly wind shifts) do move through occasionally. However, most summer
afternoons are characterized by breezy south winds. North to northwest winds are rare. Easterly winds are not very common either. Althouth high wind speeds are less common(>20kts 9.2% of the time in July), the windpeed is still greater than or equal to 12kts about 61.8% of the afternoons. The wind is between 160 degrees and 200 degrees about 46% of the time. The other 54% of the time the wind is between 210 degrees and 150 degrees. In July, the windspeed is 5 kts or less about 5.4% of the time.
In the fall
, the number of afternoons with strong winds(>20kts) increases. However, there is an interruption to the daily,
southerly wind that was common in summer so that the number of afternoons with winds >12 kts decreases. Cold fronts make it through Kansas on a regular basis along with northerly wind shifts.Return to News Archive