A person in a parka walks along an icy surface with the Chicago skyline in the background on a cold, windy day.

Windiest cities in America

Written by:
February 28, 2023
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Windiest cities in America

In April 1934, the U.S. recorded its highest wind speed ever, a gust of 231 miles per hour at Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. The Mount Washington weather station, situated at the highest point in New England, continues to record high wind speeds, averaging 35.8 miles per hour between 1984 and 2020.

Wind is caused by varying levels of pressure in the Earth's atmosphere. Air pressure is influenced by air temperature and density. And uneven heating caused by Earth's rotation around the sun and on its own axis creates global circulation patterns

Wind patterns also become more pronounced during different seasons. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere's winter, windy jet stream patterns tend to shift further south, but as summer approaches jet streams lift northward. Many cities on the list find themselves in the middle of this transition during spring.

Wind speeds aren't universal across the U.S. Besides seasonal changes, topography also plays a role in which regions are the windiest. Plains states, relatively flat and without natural barriers like mountains, can develop higher wind speeds than other regions. Some of the top cities on the list are also located at high elevations.

Stacker cited data from NOAA to identify the 50 windiest cities in the U.S. Cities are ranked by average wind speed between January 1984 and December 2020. Maximum monthly average wind speeds served as a tiebreaker. Wind speeds are calculated by NOAA 1.5 meters above the surface of the weather station. The analysis is limited to cities with populations of at least 50,000 according to Census 2021 estimates.

Chicago, famously dubbed the Windy City, makes the top 50 list but falls short of the number one spot. Its famous skyline, featuring some of the tallest buildings in the U.S., can intensify winds as gusts flow around skyscrapers and create higher-speed wind channels. The Willis Tower can even sway up to three feet on the top floor during windy days. Combined with the breezes from Lake Michigan, it seems the Windy City has still earned its moniker.

Read on to see the full list and see which cities beat Chicago.

#50. Grand Rapids, Michigan

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January and April (tie) (10.8 miles per hour on average)

#49. Bridgeport, Connecticut

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March (10.8 miles per hour on average)

#48. Norfolk, Virginia

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March and April (tie) (10.9 miles per hour on average)

#47. West Palm Beach, Florida

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March (11 miles per hour on average)

#46. Indianapolis, Indiana

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March and April (tie) (11.1 miles per hour on average)

#45. San Angelo, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.2 miles per hour on average)

#44. Columbia, Missouri

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March and April (tie) (11.2 miles per hour on average)

#43. Colorado Springs, Colorado

- Annual average wind speed: 9.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.4 miles per hour on average)

#42. Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota

- Annual average wind speed: 9.6 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.1 miles per hour on average)

#41. Cleveland, Ohio

- Annual average wind speed: 9.6 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January (11.4 miles per hour on average)

#40. Pocatello, Idaho

- Annual average wind speed: 9.6 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.5 miles per hour on average)

#39. Newark, New Jersey

- Annual average wind speed: 9.8 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March (11.2 miles per hour on average)

#38. Des Moines, Iowa

- Annual average wind speed: 9.8 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.4 miles per hour on average)

#37. Waterloo, Iowa

- Annual average wind speed: 9.8 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.9 miles per hour on average)

#36. Lincoln, Nebraska

- Annual average wind speed: 9.8 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12 miles per hour on average)

#35. Chicago, Illinois

- Annual average wind speed: 9.9 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.2 miles per hour on average)

#34. Duluth, Minnesota

- Annual average wind speed: 10 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.1 miles per hour on average)

#33. Waco, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 10 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March and April (tie) (11.3 miles per hour on average)

#32. Omaha, Nebraska

- Annual average wind speed: 10 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.8 miles per hour on average)

#31. Erie, Pennsylvania

- Annual average wind speed: 10 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January (12 miles per hour on average)

#30. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

- Annual average wind speed: 10.1 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.4 miles per hour on average)

#29. Worcester, Massachusetts

- Annual average wind speed: 10.2 miles per hour
- Windiest month: February (11.5 miles per hour on average)

#28. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

- Annual average wind speed: 10.2 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12 miles per hour on average)

#27. Grand Forks, North Dakota

- Annual average wind speed: 10.3 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (11.3 miles per hour on average)

#26. Honolulu, Hawaii

- Annual average wind speed: 10.3 miles per hour
- Windiest month: July (11.9 miles per hour on average)

#25. Kansas City, Missouri

- Annual average wind speed: 10.3 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.1 miles per hour on average)

#24. Dubuque, Iowa

- Annual average wind speed: 10.3 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.3 miles per hour on average)

#23. Buffalo, New York

- Annual average wind speed: 10.3 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January (12.4 miles per hour on average)

#22. Brownsville, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 10.4 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.4 miles per hour on average)

#21. Sioux City, Iowa

- Annual average wind speed: 10.4 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.4 miles per hour on average)

#20. San Francisco, California

- Annual average wind speed: 10.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: May and June (tie) (13.8 miles per hour on average)

#19. Rapid City, South Dakota

- Annual average wind speed: 10.6 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.6 miles per hour on average)

#18. Billings, Montana

- Annual average wind speed: 10.7 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January (13.4 miles per hour on average)

#17. Midland-Odessa, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 10.9 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.7 miles per hour on average)

#16. Abilene, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 10.9 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (13 miles per hour on average)

#15. Fargo, North Dakota

- Annual average wind speed: 11.1 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.3 miles per hour on average)

#14. Grand Island, Nebraska

- Annual average wind speed: 11.1 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (13.4 miles per hour on average)

#13. Galveston, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 11.2 miles per hour
- Windiest month: May (12.7 miles per hour on average)

#12. Wichita Falls, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 11.2 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (12.8 miles per hour on average)

#11. New York, New York

- Annual average wind speed: 11.2 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March (12.9 miles per hour on average)

#10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

- Annual average wind speed: 11.3 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (13.3 miles per hour on average)

#9. Boston, Massachusetts

- Annual average wind speed: 11.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: March (12.8 miles per hour on average)

#8. Wichita, Kansas

- Annual average wind speed: 11.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (13.3 miles per hour on average)

#7. Great Falls, Montana

- Annual average wind speed: 11.5 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January and December (tie) (14 miles per hour on average)

#6. Corpus Christi, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 11.7 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (13.8 miles per hour on average)

#5. Rochester, Minnesota

- Annual average wind speed: 12 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (13.6 miles per hour on average)

#4. Lubbock, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 12 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (14.3 miles per hour on average)

#3. Casper, Wyoming

- Annual average wind speed: 12 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January (15.5 miles per hour on average)

#2. Cheyenne, Wyoming

- Annual average wind speed: 12.2 miles per hour
- Windiest month: January (14.3 miles per hour on average)

#1. Amarillo, Texas

- Annual average wind speed: 12.9 miles per hour
- Windiest month: April (14.7 miles per hour on average)

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