How to Read Wind Barbs

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Last updated 11/6/2017, 12:30:58 PM

Wind barbs provide very useful information, but they can be a challenge to read. By keeping just a few things in mind, they can be less complicated!

For starters, here is an example of a wind barb:

The solid dot represents the station location. The amount of darkness inside the dot represents the amount of cloud cover there is. In this example, skies would be mostly cloudy.

First of all, the direction the barb is pointing is the direction from which the wind is coming.

In this example, the wind is coming from the northeast, because the barb is pointing toward the northeast.

When looking at a wind barb, unless otherwise stated, east is to your right and north is on top of the page.

Next, the speed of the wind is determined by the marks at the end of the barb.

One short barb = 5 knots = ~6 mph

One long barb = 10 knots = ~12 mph

(One knot equals 1.2 mph)

So, in the wind barb example above, the wind speed would be 25 knots (~29 mph) from the northeast.

Now, if the winds are really strong, we give them another symbol that will replace the barbs at the end of the wind barb. If winds exceed 50 knots, or 58 mph, we use a flag to represent 50 knots.

An example of all the categories of barbs, as well as the flag, are seen below:

I hope this helps! If you have any questions please let us know!