[ View menu ]

Chicago: Not all that windy

Filed in Encyclopedia ,Ideas ,Programs ,Tools
Subscribe to Decision Science News by Email (one email per week, easy unsubscribe)


At DSN, we’ve been playing a bit with FetchClimate Explorer from Microsoft Research. It lets one define regions of the globe over which it superimposes spatial and time series data concerning temperature, precipitation, sunlight, and, pictured above, wind speed.

See a demo of FetchClimate in this video, starting at 22:45.

The data (graphed above, larger image here) mesh with our experience living in Chicago that the “windy city” is not really that windy. Yes, Chicago is in a part of the country that is windier than average, but Kansas makes it look calm. Furthermore, New York City and Long Island are windier than Chicago, but nobody goes “OMG! How can you stand that wind?” when you say that you live there.

Average Wind Speed (meters / second)

  • Chicago 4.92
  • New York, NY 5.01
  • Milwaukee, WI 5.03
  • Casper, WY 5.5
  • Rochester, MN 5.5
  • Amarillo, TX 6.12
  • Dodge City, KS 6.25

And a little wind is a good thing. Houston, TX (wind speed 4.11 m/s) would love a bit of air movement during its stifling summers. They say the phrase “windy city” has not to do with high winds or the hot air of politicians, but rather stems from an Chicago tourism slogan promoting the delightful summer breezes in the days before air conditioning.


  1. Alex Washoe says:

    Interesting comparison of weather in different areas. I haven’t run the simulations, but I suspect that Seattle’s reputation for rain is similar — it seems to me that usually it’s raining everywhere around Seattle, but not actually in the city. But once you have that reputation, it’s hard to shake it.

    April 11, 2012 @ 8:36 am

  2. Kevin says:

    This is a bit silly: we need to know the positions of these readings.

    The microclimate along the lakefront-and at the junction of the lakefront and the tall building in the loop is substantially windier than the O’Hare and Midway measurements that are always used to “debunk” that Chicago is windy.

    April 27, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

RSS feed Comments

Write Comment

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>