A person with an umbrella walks against the Chicago cityscape on a rainy, windy day.

Windiest cities in America

Written by:
February 28, 2023
Jaromir Chalabala // Shutterstock

Windiest cities in America

Though most of us rarely notice it in our day-to-day lives, wind can shape history both for the better and for the worse. Just take a look at the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S., which opened on the New York coast in March of 2024 to provide clean electricity. Meanwhile, the spring of 2024 has seen particularly high winds ravaging parts of the Midwest and Tornado Alley.

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. Those patterns 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. 

Topography also plays a role in which regions of the U.S. are the windiest when it comes to wind speed. Plains states, relatively flat and without natural barriers like mountains, can develop higher wind speeds than other regions. However, the highest wind speed ever recorded in the U.S. dates all the way back to April 1934, when a gust of 231 miles per hour blew through 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.

To determine the windiest cities in the U.S., Stacker looked at data from NOAA to identify the 50, 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 #1 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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