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WEATHER 101: Is southwest, central Virginia one of the windier places in the U.S.?

Especially after this weekend, the question is valid.

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ROANOKE, Va. – The wind, especially Saturday, was a force to be reckoned with in parts of our area. That brought up a question during a Facebook live, "What's causing the wind gusts?" 

After that question, I had a follow-up of my own. "Is this region typically one of the windier spots in the country?"

Let's break today's Weather 101 down into those two parts. 

1. Why did it get so windy?

This is where we get a little technical. Air tends to move from high pressure to low pressure, to essentially fill the void. 

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An invisible force, called the Coriolis Force, deflects the air to the right in the Northern Hemisphere.

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So this weekend, the air naturally wanted to move from southwest to northeast. The Coriolis Force, however, forced the air to move from northwest to southeast. 

That put us in a favorable position for strong wind gusts. As the wind moves from the northwest, it accelerates east of the mountains. This is something we'll see again on Wednesday and Thursday

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2. Is this area one of the windiest in the country?

In a word, no. Several studies have shown places like Amarillo, Texas, Rochester, Minnesota or Reno, Nevada being some of the windiest places. 

In 2016, Nashville was the windiest city in the U.S., but it typically isn't It's actually similar in average wind speed to Roanoke.

Hot Springs is actually more similar to Chicago, but not quite to the level of Amarillo or Rochester.

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Chicago, nicknamed "The Windy City," isn't really one of the windiest spots in the country. In fact, there is some political origin to the nickname, but we won't get into that.

Questions? Just ask!

As we continue to get Weather 101 rolling here at WSLS, we want your questions. If there's something about the weather that you would like to know more about, please send me a message on Facebook or email me at cmichaels@wsls.com


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