Explore the different types of wind. Yes, there are dozens of them

Explore the different types of wind. Yes, there are dozens of them


Wind is a stream of air that moves in the atmosphere mainly in a horizontal direction. The process of wind formation can be explained as follows: atmospheric pressure is unevenly distributed, which is why its fluctuations constantly occur.

The wind is always directed from the high pressure zone to the low pressure zone. The greater the difference, the stronger the wind. Since the pressure is constantly changing in time and space, the wind speed and direction are also changing.

Winds are divided into two large types: winds of global importance (trade winds and monsoon) and local winds. The latter have much more varieties. Let's deal with both types in this lesson.

Types of wind. Valerya Milovanova / Windy.app

Global winds

Global winds are winds that blow across the globe. They are also known under the term "global wind patterns". The two main types of global winds are trade winds and monsoons.

Trade winds

Trade winds are constant winds that blow all year long in the same direction, i.e. from tropical latitudes to the equator. It's dry winds that are observed over the surface of the ocean, but not over the continents. Trade winds are constantly directed from areas of high pressure towards the equatorial zone. In the Northern Hemisphere they are north-easterly, in the Southern hemisphere they are south-easterly.

Learn more about trade winds


Moosons are winds that blow from the tropics to the Equator: from the ocean in summer and from the mainland in winter. As a rule, monsoons carry moist air masses. The monsoon climate is characterized by high humidity in summer. On land, in areas of monsoon climate, it is very dry in winter. 

Learn more about monsoons

Local winds

Local winds are winds that occur and are regularly observed in a certain place due to certain local characteristics (usually the terrain). So the main features of a local wind are its regularity and the limited area where it is observed. The most common example of a local wind are breezes and mistral.

Learn more about local winds


The breeze is a local wind that blows at a low speed (about 2-5 m /s) and changes 2 times a day: during the day it blows from the sea to the coast, at night the direction changes. Depending on the heating force, the land affects the circulation of the air flow. The more heating up of the land, the greater the temperature difference, the stronger the breeze is.

Learn more about breeze wind


Bora is a very cold and very strong local wind. The bora arises in this way: a wind flow that moves towards the water, collides with a mountain range, flows around it and collapses towards the sea. In order for the Boron wind to form, several conditions are necessary: to begin with, increased atmospheric pressure should be distributed over a large area around the mountain range. Above the reservoir, the pressure should be lowered on the contrary. The greater this difference, the stronger the wind speed. Then, the wind flow at high speed meets a ridge not exceeding 1 km and collapses towards the sea.

Learn more about bora wind


But local winds can also be very strong, with suitable conditions only in a particular part of the coast. For example, the mistral. It can be very destructive and only occurs on the Mediterranean coast of France. Winds such as the mistral occur in other places too, but there they are called differently (bora, nord). It is a cold and very strong wind. Its speed often exceeds 66 km/h (41 miles per hour). The mistral is responsible for an unimaginable number of broken masts and yachtsmen's failed plans... Besides, in spring and summer the mistral comes to the region very dry and causes significant damage to agriculture.

Learn more about mistral wind

Mountain and valley winds

All of the above winds blow mainly on land and sea. However, there is wind in the mountains too, and its formation is slightly different from the others. There are so-called mountain breezes in the mountains. Unlike the sea, in the mountains the wind blows along the slope. During the day, the air at the top of the slope heats up and rises from the valley, at night, on the contrary, it cools down and descends.

Learn more about mountain and valley wind

Other types of winds based on various characteristics

Wind gusts

A gust is a short strengthening of an already existing wind, lasting up to 1 minute. Any of the above-mentioned winds carries gusts: some have strong gusts, while others have very weak gusts. Most often, a rush occurs when a stream meets an obstacle on its way: a building, a structure, mountains. The flow seems to envelop obstacles, slows down. As soon as the obstacle is passed, the friction force drops and the flow sharply picks up its speed. Because of the gusts, it is difficult to determine the overall speed of the wind itself, so in this case, the wind is observed for about 5 minutes, and then the average and maximum speed of the gusts are recorded.

Learn more about wind gusts

Jet stream

At the border of air masses — especially large homogeneous volumes of air with a strong temperature difference — veery strong winds occur, capable of reaching hundreds of kilometers per hour. Such winds were called jet streams. Jet — because they are relatively narrow: with a length of thousands of kilometers, the width of the "jet" is a couple of hundred kilometers, and the height is about 5 kilometers.

Learn more about jet stream wind

Explore the different types of all the main weather phenomena:


Text: Windy.app team. Masha Shapovalova and Ivan Kuznetsov contributed to this article

Cover photo: Juliette G / Unsplash

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