When we think about the weather of a city, we usually think about how rainy it may be or what the temperature is. However, wind can make a big difference! Chicago is known as the “windy city,” but it did not even make the top 30. The windiest places are actually in Alaska, with the number one windiest city being Cold Bay, in the Aleutian Islands; the average wind speed in Cold Bay is 16.2 miles per hour, though winds can quickly get to hurricane strength. Number two is Saint Paul Island, which is off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea, between Alaska and Russia. In Saint Paul Island, the average wind speed is 15.5 miles per hour, and like Cold Bay, the wind can get to hurricane strength regularly. Add to the high winds a frigid temperature, and these two cities have particularly harsh and rugged environments that are challenging for people to experience.
The third-windiest city in the United States is on the other side of the country, in Dedham, Massachusetts. Dedham has a much milder climate than the islands of Alaska, but it still has an average wind speed of 15 miles per hour. Number four is on Alaska’s North Slope, on the edge of the Arctic Ocean, the town of Kaktovik. Kaktovik has brutally cold temperatures – the average low is four degrees Fahrenheit, and the average high is only 16 degrees – and an average wind speed of 13.3 miles per hour.
Number five is also out of the continental United States, the city of Lihue, Hawaii. Lihue has a much warmer climate but still intense wind speeds, with an average of 13.3 miles per hour. The next-windiest cities are Dodge City in Kansas, Kahului in Hawaii, Amarillo in Texas, Barrow in Alaska, and Cheyenne in Wyoming. New York City ranks in at number 12. Chicago and Boston are large cities that are known for having high wind speeds, but they are far from the windiest cities in the country.
The wind is a significant yet often overlooked factor in a city’s weather. There are many places throughout the country that have high wind speeds that shape how people live in them and affect the overall lifestyle. Many of the windiest cities do not have high populations, possibly because consistently having to face high wind speeds makes living there challenging and prohibits the construction of large buildings.