IOWA — If you’ve spent any time outdoors over the past few weeks in Central Iowa, you’ve probably noticed the strong wind – or had it blow you off balance. It seems day after day, meteorologists are talking about strong winds.
To understand the recent spike in winds in Iowa, the first question to consider is: from where does wind come?
The Earth is actually off balance, so air travels from high pressure to low pressure in an attempt to even things out. But because the Earth rotates on a tilted axis, that can never happen. When the distance between high and low pressure is smaller, the wind responds by becoming stronger. The more spread out these press centers are, the weaker the winds will be.
In the Spring, our weather pattern tends to be more dramatic as we transition from the three coldest months (December, January and February) to the three warmest months (June, July and August). This results in more days with stronger wind speeds.
The Iowa Environmental Mesonet shows that in March and April, the average sustained wind speed is above 12 miles per hour. This March, the average sustained wind in Des Moines was only 9.6 miles per hour. However the last five days of the month were some of the windiest. That has continued into April. Over the last 18 days, the average sustained wind was 11.7 miles per hour.