Chicago is nicknamed “the windy city,” and judging the city by its title alone, you will easily get confused and think that Chicago, Illinois is indeed the country’s windiest city. But it is not the case. Contrary to popular belief, Chicago is not the city with the strongest winds. So which are the windiest cities in the United States, then?
The top place has been held by a city located in the heart of the United States’ so-called Tornado Alley. Several other cities in Tornado Alley have also earned their rightful places on the rankings. While a “typical” wind speed is seven or eight miles per hour, many cities have winds of more than ten miles per hour for much of the year. Keep in mind that wind speeds vary depending on the region, and a surge in tornadoes, hurricanes, and storms sweeping off the mountains might result in unusual weather. Below, we will list the 10 windiest cities in the United States.
The 10 Windiest Cities in the United States
10. Fargo, North Dakota – 11.2 mph
With an average wind speed of 11.2 mph, the city of Fargo in North Dakota ranks tenth among the windiest cities in the United States. Fargo is the only city in North Dakota that makes this list. Although annual wind speed averages in Fargo have reached 15 mph, the city’s average between 1948 and 2014 was around 11.2 miles per hour (mph). Summers in Fargo are generally peaceful, although a tornado in June 1959 brought the city’s highest recorded wind. Due to its narrowness, it is an exceedingly windy location in the Red River Valley. It’s just next to Minnesota, and it’s on par with Minnesota in terms of flat landmass. Its windy climate and its northern location make it ideal for blizzards and other winter storms.
9. Wichita, Kansas – 11.5 mph
The 7th flattest state, Kansas is also home to Wichita, just like Dodge City. Wichita is only the first state in Kansas to join our list. With an average wind speed of 11.5 mph, Wichita ranks as the ninth windiest city in the country. The strong winds here are brought by the sinking of the same air coming over the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, causing the low-pressure zones to warm and strengthen. Since it is around 150 miles east of Dodge City, it has less average wind speed than its small-town cousin. However, the maximum recorded wind speed in this city dwarfs that of its counterpart (101 mph vs. 79 mph), which was measured during a derecho, a basic thunderstorm that swells and expands.
Being on the Great Plains and distant from any significant moderating effects such as mountains or vast bodies of water, Wichita is prone to extreme weather, with thunderstorms common in the spring and summer.
8. Buffalo, New York – 11.8 mph
Buffalo, located on the banks of Lake Erie, is windy enough to make it onto our list of the windiest cities in the US. The New York city has an average wind speed of 11.8 mph and is most windy in January. Lake Erie is dubbed “lake breeze” by scientists which indicates that the air above the lake moves toward the land. When the ground is warmer than the ocean, this phenomenon occurs. As the warm, light air above the landmass rises to the sky, the cooler, heavier air above the lake takes its place. The same cycle occurs in the winter, creating a lovely image with lake-effect snow. So it’s not surprising that January is the windiest month in the city. Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city and the seat of Erie County, is located on the eastern shore of Lake Erie.
7. Corpus Christi, Texas – 12 mph
With an average wind speed of 12 mph, Corpus Christi is another hot city where the constant breeze might be seen as a blessing instead of a curse by the people who live there. It is quite understandable, after all. Gusty winds can only be a relief when the temperature is above 80 degrees for the entire summer – which Texas has. The extra-long summer might seem even hotter if it weren’t for the wind, which brings 80-degree temps to this seaside sanctuary most days from April to October. Compared to cities with denser populations and more complicated infrastructure, the powerful winds appear to be less detrimental due to the low population and shortage of complex infrastructure.
6. Rochester, Minnesota – 12.1 mph
Rochester, located in the southeast corner of the flat state, has one of the strongest average wind speeds of any Minnesota city, at roughly 12.1 miles per hour. Minnesota ranks fifth among the flattest topographies of any state in the United States, suggesting that the region is even flatter than Kansas. The wind in the city is linked to topographical flatness because there are fewer hills to block gusts from rushing over the area. So there’s nothing that can stop the city from being ripped apart by strong winds. The collision between dry cold air from Canada and northbound hot, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico is the primary culprit of the winds in Rochester.
5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – 12.2 mph
With an average wind speed of 12.2 miles per hour, Oklahoma ranks as the country’s fifth windiest city. Many of the powerful winds that leave a trail of destruction throughout the Midwest originate in Oklahoma, near Amarillo. It has an extended tornado season, with 4 months of extreme winds from February to May, unlike some other cities on this list. On rare occasions, Oklahoma City boasts a subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and cold winters with snowfall. The only reason for its wind gusts is that it is located within a tornado alley, and the city often experiences such gusts during tornado season. Oklahoma’s winds are from the southern states such as Texas, but that’s nothing new.
During the summer, persistent winds, generally from the south or south-southeast, help to cool things down. During the winter, northerly winds can worsen cold days.
4. Boston, Massachusetts – 12.3 mph
Boston lands fourth on this list of the windiest cities in the US, with an average wind speed of 12.3 mph, but having a denser population than the cities mentioned above, it merits more attention. In 2016, the gusts in Boston were so powerful that they toppled an eight-foot-tall statue of Benjamin Franklin constructed in 1856. Due to its location on the Atlantic Ocean’s shore, the city is vulnerable to extratropical cyclones that send powerful gusts in from the northeast.
While Boston’s average wind speed is roughly 12.3 mph, a bomb cyclone in October 2019 caused gusts of up to 90 mph on the Cape. Because of the city’s modern landscape, wind speeds in Boston are not highly consistent, and January, February, and March are Boston’s windiest months.
3. Lubbock, Texas – 12.4 mph
There are a lot of Texas cities on this list, and Lubbock is one. Lubbock, located just south of the Texas Panhandle, generates an average wind speed of 12.4 miles per hour. The city is so windy that it’s home to the American Wind Power Center (previously known as the American Windmill Museum) and its wind farm, which supplies energy to around 27,000 families each year. Furthermore, the steady winds in this section of the country favored the idea of wind energy. This renewable energy plant will also benefit from the featureless flat area. The city’s location on the Llano Estacado, a section of the Western High Plains, accounts for its windiness.
2. Amarillo, Texas – 13.6 mph
Amarillo, Texas, is ranked second among the country’s windiest cities, and rightfully so. It’s in the windy Texas Panhandle, east of the Rocky Mountains, with an average wind speed of 13.6 miles per hour. Despite having one of the highest average wind speeds of any city in the United States, Amarillo’s record wind gust of 84 mph is not as high as other Texas and the Midwest places. According to the climate records for Amarillo, the continuous low pressure causes heavy winds from the southwest and west. The city experiences continual winds of 50-60 mph during the windiest months, and it has 40 mph winds even in the quiet months of August and September.
1. Dodge City, Kansas – 15 mph
The featureless landscape of the Great Plains contributes to Kansas’ windiness, particularly in the southwest, which receives the brunt of gusts coming down the Rocky Mountains. This becomes much more apparent as Dodge, one of Kansas’ cities, holds the title of the windiest city in the United States. With an average wind speed of 15 mph, Dodge City deserved to share Chicago’s label. The city is also located in the heart of tornado alley. Thus, taking first place isn’t surprising. However, 15 mph is nothing compared to Dodge City’s monthly maximums. Even November, the city’s calmest month, has wind gusts of 44 mph. March reigns as the windiest month in Dodge, with 63 miles per hour winds.
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