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What Are "Damaging Winds"?

12/10/2021 (Permalink)

When severe weather strikes Western New York, the news often throws around meteorological terms that you might not realize have very specific meanings.

Take the term “damaging winds,” for instance. As a layman, you’d probably take that phrase to simply mean winds that have the potential to cause damage, right?

In meteorological circles, though, “damaging winds” are a specific type of winds that follow a particular pattern and reach a particular speed.

According to NOAA, damaging winds are “straight-line” winds, distinct from the sort of wind that you might see in a tornado. To be classified as damaging, they must exceed 50 to 60 miles per hour.

More than half of all reports of damage related to severe thunderstorms result from these sorts of damaging winds. They’re much more damaging than tornadoes, especially to structures that are especially vulnerable, like mobile homes.

The next time you hear about “damaging winds” on the news, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.

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