KSN Storm Track 3 Digital Extra: How the wind howls

Weather Stories

Even though it can sound creepy at times and sometimes keeps us up at night, there is a science behind howling winds.

The wind howls when it is broken up from passing through and around objects, like trees. Once the wind is broken up, there is one side of the wind that will not meet as much resistance and will be stronger than the other. When the sides or currents rejoin, this causes vibrations in the air as they mix. Those vibrations result in the howling that we hear.

As the wind blows through trees, leaves will determine how much howling you hear. If there are more leaves on the tree there will be less howling because the leaves absorb some of the vibrations in the air. Even though we have gusty winds throughout the year, this is why there is less howling in the summer and more in the winter.

There is also another cause of howling winds, friction. This process can release sound which results in howling and whistling. As wind speed increases, the friction over objects will also increase.

When it comes to wind speed, it has been estimated that winds of at least 25 mph are needed to hear howling or whistling when moving around objects. Similar to the rule about friction, higher wind speeds will result in a higher frequency of howling and whistling.

-Meteorologist Ronelle Williams

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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