Wind has no sound. Here’s what you are actually hearing on blustery days

Winds to pick up Wednesday into Thursday

A woman's hair flies as strong winds hit Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. Wind and storms are forecasted for the next two days in Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Probst) (Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The wind this week has been strong and it’s forecast to get a little stronger before letting up.

Often, we may hear the breeze “howling” during strong wind events like hurricanes. Some may say they can hear a light breeze whistling as it passes by. Did you know it’s not the wind you hear, but objects reacting to the wind that actually produce the sound?

Let’s talk about it.

The wind is simply air in motion. When the wind is reported, the horizontal speed and direction are what people care about.

For instance, on Tuesday the wind is out of the east-northeast with speeds around 20 mph and gusting even higher.

Winds reported just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday November 14th show an east wind at 15 mph. (WKMG)

Over the next couple of days, the east wind will continue to pick up with sustained or constantly blowing speeds ranging from 15-25 mph and gusting even as high as 30-40 mph.

Future wind gust models show wind gust potential near 30-40 mph by Wednesday afternoon near the coast. (WKMG)

Whether you play golf, ride a bike, captain a boat or work high up on tall buildings or power lines, the wind can make all the difference in how a person makes decisions about their day. Imagine wanting to fly a kite and the wind is calm. Those plans would get changed, right?

Here’s the thing. We can’t actually see the air moving nor can we hear it.

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The wind’s motion can be measured by the force that it applies to objects. It can be either friction, rolling or rubbing that causes the sounds, but it’s always the object’s reaction to the wind that makes the sound.

When the wind comes into contact with a structure — like a building, window or tree — it causes friction which produces sound waves. Eolian or Aeolian tones, like the whooshing or humming sound associated with the wind, travel through the air making a wide variety or range of sounds depending on what the wind came in contact with.

During a hurricane, given the intense nature of the storm, most people associate the wind hitting the windows as an eerie howling wind. On the other hand, the sound of gentle long grasses moving back and forth on a sunny day may sound more relaxing. Sounds of weather elements, like the wind, are often used in white noise machines or apps on phones to help people relax or sleep.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.