Getting Geeky With Grant – How much wind does it take to move common objects?

Weather Wisdom

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – As a cold front is swinging through the region on this Sunday morning, winds will gradually pick up and begin to gust at times over 30 mph. Some locations could even gust close to 40 mph during the afternoon hours. Meteorologists often warn to bring in or secure anything that can blow around easily on windy days, but how much wind is actually required to move certain objects?

Through a simple math equation we can approximately determine how much wind is required to move common objects we encounter daily. To do this all we need to know is the objects weight in pounds and it’s surface area in square feet. The equation used is in the video above. A leaf on the ground is one of the most easily moved, with a wind gust of only 3 miles per hour being able to move it. Trashcans are something you commonly need to go hunting down after a bout of some strong winds. Turns out through our equation that a typical 96 gallon trashcan only takes about a 28 mph wind gust to move it. They have a large surface area but are hollow and light which is why it takes less wind.

For an average person, a wind gust of 67 mph is required to move them laterally. These types of gusts can be found in hurricanes, tornadoes, or even strong thunderstorms. What seems to be the most surprising is the wind gust required to move a normal sized car. Only a 90 mph wind gust is required to move a car laterally. This is due to their large surface area. Even though they are dense and heavy, they possess a large surface area, therefore only requiring a wind gust that is still under 100 mph. These types of gusts are found in hurricanes and tornadoes.

As our Sunday progresses we expect to see wind gusts approaching 40 mph in many locations across the Twin Tiers. This will allow for trashcans and items of similar weight and size to be blown around and away from your house if not secure. Take time during the morning hours to make sure everything is latched, tied down, or brought inside!

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