The United States is known for its incredibly wide and varied number of different weather conditions.
Whether it is frigid temperatures on the East Coast and north, the dry climate of vast swathes of US central, or the wet and temperate climate of the north-west coast.
The United States has in a single country what entire continents can only dream of!
One of the things that a vast amount of the South West is very familiar with is the strong winds that hit this part of the country regularly, especially in the spring. There are even many cities that are famous for the high wind speeds that they receive annually.
Probably the most famous of these is the “windy city” of Chicago, where this aspect of the year-round weather has become baked into a part of the city’s identity.
However, it may surprise some readers to learn that, despite its name, Chicago isn’t the windiest city in the United States. Several other US cities rank higher than it.
If you want to find out what the windiest cities in the US are, you’ve come to the right place!
In this guide, we are going to show you some of the windiest urban centers in the country, as well as go into a little detail as to what the local weather is like in general.
Sorry Chicago, your spot at the top has been blown away!
Determining ‘High-Speed’ Winds
Before we start listing the fasting wind speeds in cities, we should probably first establish how exactly those speeds are determined.
To simplify things, wind speed is effectively just the changing of air pressure from a location of high pressure, to a location of low pressure. The greater the pressure difference, the higher the speed of the wind will be.
Wind speed is usually measured using a tool known as an anemometer. These tools use four horizontally aligned shafts that end in cup-like shapes that catch the wind as it passes. The faster this device spins, the higher the wind speed is.
It is also possible to roughly estimate wind speeds based on how much the surrounding environment is affected, such as large trees that are moving in the wind.
Wind Speeds In Urban Areas
Generally speaking, wind speeds in a built-up urban area, such as in large towns and cities, tend to be much lower than in the surrounding natural areas.
This is because the large and tall structures in urban areas, such as skyscrapers and large city blocks, tend to disrupt the natural flow of air pressure higher up, causing wind speeds to decrease as they have to accommodate more obstructions.
Generally speaking, wind speeds prefer large areas of unobstructed space for them to be more at their smoothest.
Anyone who has stood in an open field during a breeze, or on a long and wide beach with very few buildings, will know just how strong a single gust of wind can get on these open spaces.
Even standing on the rooftop of a tall building can often give you a sense of the speeds that winds tend to move at when unobstructed by obstacles.
Windiest Cities In The United States
So, with that little piece of information out of the way, we can now start talking about the windiest cities that you can find in the US!
Coming in at the top of our list, we have the city of Boston itself, officially being the windiest city in the United States.
Located in the state of Massachusetts, Boston shares a feature that many of the windiest cities in the United States have: Its access to the Atlantic Ocean on the North-Eastern side of the country gives this city.
This easy access to the ocean, which was one of the original reasons that turned Boston into such an important port and major trade hub in North America, also means that the city can often face the brunt of many sea storms that blow in from the Atlantic.
The fact that the state and city also sit on a major transition point of two climates, with the subtropical Köppen climate from the south, and the colder weather conditions coming down from the North Pole has a massive effect on weather and wind.
This means that the warmer, higher air pressure comes into contact with the colder, lower pressure in and around Massachusetts is a constant meeting point of different pressures and temperatures.
This, coupled with a lack of major geographical landmarks, such as mountains or hills, means that the city often takes the brunt of any high-pressure winds moving in from off the coast, with the annual wind speed clocking in at around 12.3 miles per hour (or 19.8 Kilometers per hour).
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Up next, we have a city located in the heart of Central America, Oklahoma City in, you guessed it, Oklahoma.
Coming off of the back of the last entry of this list, a city that sits inland of pretty much any kind of major body of water might seem like a strange place to have a very windy city.
However, just as there’s more than one way to cook an egg, there are more than a few ways of picking up some pretty high recorded wind speeds.
And one of them is located in a tornado alley.
The subtropical climate and latitude that Oklahoma City sits at means that the state and city are often at the center of some pretty extreme weather conditions, from droughts to torrential rainfall, and tornadoes. Also see ‘When Is Tornado Season In Oklahoma?‘).
These weather conditions can disappear as quickly as they can show up and wreak havoc.
This applies just as much to winds in early spring through to early summer, when tornadoes are likely to occur.
Even without the frequent and surprising appearances of tornadoes coming through your neighborhood, the extreme weather conditions still leave Oklahoma City with an above-average annual wind speed of 12.2 miles per hour (or 19.6 kilometers per hour).
Buffalo, New York
Coming up next on the list, we have a big city that often gets overlooked by its bigger neighbor, we have Buffalo, located in New York state.
Located just next to the Canadian border, near Toronto, Buffalo City is located at a very similar latitude to Boston, meaning that a good number of the weather conditions that you’d find in Massachusetts can also be found here.
Buffalo sits firmly in the humid continental climate zone, similar to Boston, meaning that it is often subjected to very strong storms and winds from time to time.
Being located on the southern shore of Ontario also means that storms can blow inland from here, resulting in a relatively how amount of snowstorms for the area.
However, possible because it does not sit on the shore of any particularly large body of water beside Lake Ontario, the winds that Buffalo receives aren’t quite as strong as its eastern city counterpart, with the highest annual wind speeds recorded being around 11.8 miles per hour (or 19 kilometers per hour).
From the North of the country, we take a long trip down to the state of Texas for the next windiest city, Dallas.
The city of Dallas and the surrounding areas are located on relatively flat land, meaning that the city is often exposed to above-average high winds of around 10.7 miles per hour (or 17. 2 kilometers per hour).
This topographical quirk of the city isn’t helped by the fact that, like Oklahoma, Dallas technically is located toward the lower side of tornado alley, meaning that more extreme weather conditions, such as snow and hailstorms, as well as tornadoes, are not uncommon.
Dallas is also located in the Köppen climate classification, meaning that it is often exposed to warmer temperatures and air pressure coming up from the tropics which often means that subtropical weather conditions are relatively common.
Given the reputation of a lot of the southern United States as being a relatively dry zone of the country, that can come as quite a shock to some people.
So, with that information, it is not untrue to say Dallas, Texas: surprisingly moist.
Be careful however as nearby desert heat conditions can still turn the temperature up quicker than you might expect (see also ‘The Importance Of The Weather In A Desert Climate‘)!
San Francisco, California
Following on from the inland city of Dallas, we go over to the West coast of the United States, San Francisco is another windy city that trumps Chicago interns of average wind speeds.
In a similar manner to how Boston and Buffalo are located close to the East Coast along the Atlantic Ocean, San Francisco is often exposed to much of the weather conditions that roll in deeper from the largest body of water in the world.
It’s part of the reason that San Francisco’s fog in the summer is such as reliable phenomenon. That, and the warm, almost Mediterranean conditions of this part of California state.
The topography of San Francisco is located on several large hills, which is as much of its character as landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the many islands along its coast, does create areas of relatively low-pressure wind, however.
The overall effect that this has on the wind speeds is that, although quite fast, is around 10.6 miles per hour (or 17.1 kilometers per hour)
And so, bringing up the rear of this list, we finally return to the main city that we mentioned at the beginning of this piece.
Located on the SouthWest of Lake Michigan and the continental divide, Chicago is a city that is caught in the polar cycle, where the warmer climate from the south mixes with the colder temperatures that come down from the north.
The result is a city that has a lot of varying weather conditions, similar to other cities such as Boston.
However, when it comes to wind speed, Chicago comes behind pretty much every other city we have covered on this list, with the annual amount being around 10.6 miles per hour (or 16.6). Not slow by any means, but definitely behind other cities.
So, there you have it!
Whilst Chicago is indeed a windy city, both in spirit and in weather, it does not come close to being the windiest city in the United States.
As the numbers we have how here prove, that honor, for now at least, goes to the state capital of Massachusetts, Boston!
If you liked this article, you might enjoy our post on ‘Which US City Is The Rainiest? (The Answer Might Surprise You)‘.