Discover The Highest Wind Speed Ever Recorded On Earth!

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: May 21, 2022
Image Credit Rasica/Shutterstock.com
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tornado storm
Tornadoes carry some of the highest recorded wind speeds on earth!

Rasica/Shutterstock.com

High wind speeds are perhaps one of the most intriguing, yet scariest things that mother nature can produce. Whether it be a tornado, tropical storm, hurricane, or dust storm, high wind speeds can cause a lot of destruction. High winds can damage property, cause injuries, and even death in extreme cases. Wind can even damage the earth itself if the speed is high enough. Multiple factors can contribute to high wind speeds. You may even be surprised by the wind speed which some storms can produce. But what is the highest wind speed ever recorded? Let’s compare various storms to find out which one blows the competition away!

What Causes High Wind Speeds On Earth?

Types of Clouds - Storm
High wind speeds are caused by pressure gradients.

Jeff Gammons StormVisuals/Shutterstock.com

Winds are produced by pressure gradients. A pressure gradient is how fast the pressure in the atmosphere changes over distance. When pressure changes rapidly, like when a cold front meets a warm front, the pressure gradient force is exceptionally large. This can result in extremely high wind speeds. A wind gradient is the rate at which wind increases depending upon the level at which it is above ground. When discussing which wind speeds are the highest in a storm, you will often look at its airflow regions.

A tornado’s strongest wind speeds occur near the core of the tornado. This is where the area of the lowest atmospheric pressure is bounded by the fastest circulating around the center of the tornado. A cyclone, however, is a bit different. The most dangerous part of a cyclone is within the northern right quadrant of the cyclone, also called the eyewall. It is in this region where the winds of the storm are the strongest. Let’s find out the highest winds recorded for these storms and others as well!

Highest Wind Speed Recorded In Dust Storms

Dust Bowl
The highest dust storm windspeed was at 60mph!

NOAA George E. Marsh Album / public domain

A dust storm, or sandstorm, is a storm that occurs when fierce winds blow loose dirt or sand from a dry surface. The Black Sunday dust storm of 1935 has gone down in history as the largest dust storm recorded. This massive storm was nearly a thousand miles wide, covering states in a high wall of sand and dust. Its wind speed was recorded up to 60 mph! This storm was the worst dust storm in American history. It caused both economical and agricultural disasters, as well as multiple deaths.

Highest Wind Speeds Recorded In Hurricanes

Hurricane Katrina
The highest hurricane speed was at 254 mph!

lavizzara/Shutterstock.com

A hurricane is the result of a cyclone or tropical storm. It is a storm with violent winds that usually occur in tropical waters of the Caribbean. For many years, the highest wind speed ever recorded was from a hurricane in Mount Washington, New Hampshire in 1934. It reached its highest wind speed at 231 mph. Many say that the highest hurricane wind speed ever recorded was from the 1996 tropical cyclone, Olivia. This was a category 4 hurricane that passed by Barrow Island, Australia. This storm had wind speeds of 254 mph and has reigned supreme for the highest hurricane wind speed ever recorded.

Highest Wind Speeds Recorded In Tornadoes

Twister In Storm - Gray landscape
The highest recorded wind speed for a tornado is 302 mph!

iStock.com/RomoloTavani

A tornado is a moving and destructive vortex of fast, violently rotating winds. It often comes from a thunderstorm when the pressure in the atmosphere changes rapidly. It is an essentially funnel-shaped cloud that advances from a large storm system. The fastest tornado ever recorded was in 1999 in Bridge Creek, Oklahoma. This powerful F5 tornado had the highest globally measured wind speeds by reaching up to 302 mph! It traveled over a total of 38 miles in 85 minutes. It destroyed many homes and killed 36 people.

Highest Wind Speed Ever Recorded On Earth

The highest wind speed ever recorded was the Bridge Creek tornado which resulted in 302 mph wind speeds! While the hurricane of 1996 was severe, it simply does not compare to this mile-wide monster that ripped through the Midwest years ago. Because this storm was so massive and fast, the national weather forecast offices issued a national tornado emergency for the first time in history. Unfortunately, this storm took many lives and injured upwards of 800 people. It also destroyed thousands of properties which led to a massive economic hit. Not only does this storm go down in history for the highest wind speeds, but it is one of the most destructive and terrifying storms ever to be produced!

In Conclusion

Glendo Reservoir Wyoming
Storms at night can be hard to see, making them even more dangerous.

Logan Nagel/Shutterstock.com

While many storms can create high wind speeds, they often vary due to location, temperature, and pressure changes. If you live in an area where high windstorms can be produced, it is important to know your safety precautions. When dealing with the threat of a tornado, seek shelter underground or in an empty ditch if outside. Cover your head and neck and wait for the storm to pass. When dealing with the threat of a dust storm, it is important to avoid outdoor activity if possible. Close all doors and windows. Get off a highway or major road if on one. Make sure to cover your head if you are outside.

If you are in an area where a threat of a hurricane or tropical storm is near, stay indoors and away from electrical outlets and equipment. Be prepared to evacuate if needed. It is important to know your safety tips if ever caught in a dangerous storm that results in destructive winds. Always try your best to remain calm and stay as safe as you can until the storm passes.

tornado storm
Tornadoes typically happen right after a storm, just like in this video.
Rasica/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

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