The United States is home to some of the windiest cities in the world. It’s no surprise that Chicago—a prominent city in the US—is nicknamed the “Windy City.” Still, the so-called Windy City isn’t the city with the most violent wind gust. Some American cities have an average wind speed of up to 12 miles per hour (mph) compared to Chicago’s 10.3 mph.
The titular Tornado Alley is one region that comes to mind when reviewing the windiest cities in the US. This striking area features America’s windiest city and several others making this list.
Considering these revelations, this article presents the top ten windiest cities in the US. This thesis enables adequate awareness about these cities, the windiest season, and when to best visit them. It’ll also point out some likely elements in these windy cities and several precautionary measures to take when inhabiting or visiting them.
Before diving into the main topic, let’s quickly explore the windy nature of Tornado Alley.
Tornado Alley — What’s the Fuss About?
Tornado Alley is a region in the middle of the US where tornadoes are especially frequent and serious. It’s a loosely defined area with its main alley extending from Northern Texas and comprising Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Sometimes, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and western Ohio are considered part of Tornado Alley.
The tornado frequency in the States is closely linked with the warm season cycle, specifically when the warm and cold air masses clash constantly. The violent windstorms in Tornado Alley arise from the collision of warm, humid air from the equator and cool or cold, dry air from Canada and the Rocky Mountains. This air clash establishes a suitable environment for tornado formation within developed thunderstorms and supercells.
Texas—situated on the southern end of Tornado Alley—is the state with the most tornadoes in the US. However, Kansas and Oklahoma come in first and second place, respectively, in terms of the frequency of tornadoes per area.
The Top 10 Windiest Cities in the US
The highlighted cities are primarily ranked based on their respective average wind speed values. Three of the top ten windiest cities in the US are located in Texas, while two are situated in Kansas. The other five cities making the list are in five different states.
Interestingly, while Chicago has a quite impressive average wind speed of 10.3 mph, it doesn’t make this list because these ten cities have considerably speedier wind gusts.
The 10 windiest cities in the US include:
- Dodge City, Kansas
- Amarillo, Texas
- Lubbock, Texas
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Rochester, Minnesota
- Corpus Christi, Texas
- Buffalo, New York
- Wichita, Kansas
- Fargo, North Dakota
Let’s examine each individually and in more detail.
1. Dodge City, Kansas
- Average Wind Speed in Dodge City, KS: 15 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Dodge City, KS: April
- Calmest Month in Dodge City, KS: November
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Dodge City, KS: 84 mph on December 17, 2021
Dodge City holds the top spot on the windiest cities in the US list. This city, which is well-known for its days as a wild frontier town of the Old West, is located right in the heart of Tornado Alley. So, it’s no shock that it has an average wind speed of 15 miles per hour.
The flatness of Kansas State is also blameworthy for Dodge City’s violent winds. Although inaccurately touted as the flattest state, Kansas is the 7th flattest state in the US. Due to the significant amount of flatlands in the city, the wind gust isn’t broken by any obstacle as it progresses. This situation causes the gust to hit a heightened level.
Dodge City’s average wind speed of 15 mph sounds like a soothing figure if you consider that the wind speed in the city can reach up to 63 mph in March.
November is the calmest month in Dodge City and the best time for visitors whose businesses can be adversely affected by the city’s windy nature. Still, the city may record a wind speed of 44 mph in its most peaceful month. On the contrary, April is the average windiest month in Dodge City, and the city has noted wind speeds of up to 79 mph around this time of the year.
2. Amarillo, Texas
- Average Wind Speed in Amarillo, TX: 6 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Amarillo, TX: April
- Highest Recorded Wind Gusts in Amarillo, TX: 84 mph on May 15, 1949
Amarillo, the second windiest city in the US, is quite close to Dodge City and part of Tornado Alley. The city, famous for its savory steak challenge and beautiful canyon, has an average wind speed of 13.6 miles per hour. Situated in the windy Texas Panhandle, Amarillo sits towards the east of the Rocky Mountains.
High-pressure systems or storm fronts aren’t responsible for the violent winds in Amarillo. In reality, westbound winds from New Mexican peaks incite low pressure in the plains of Texas.
According to the Climate Narrative for Amarillo, this continuous low pressure leads to strong winds from the southwest and west. In its windiest months, particularly in April, Amarillo often records 50–60 mph winds.
Even in its least windy months of August and September, the wind speed can be as high as 40 mph. Although Amarillo has one of the USA’s highest recorded wind gusts, the country has experienced much more intense winds, even in Texas.
3. Lubbock, Texas
- Average Wind Speed in Lubbock, TX: 4 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Lubbock, TX: April
- Highest Recorded Wind Gusts in Lubbock, TX: 90 mph on May 9, 1952
Lubbock is located just south of the Texas Panhandle. This city, the birthplace of the rock ‘n’ roll legend Buddy Holly, is part of Tornado Alley. Lubbock isn’t as windy as Amarillo, with an average wind speed of 12.4 mph. Still, the city is noteworthy for its consistent wind speeds.
Due to its uniform wind speed, Lubbock serves as the home of the American Wind Power Center, also known as the American Windmill Museum. Apart from the even wind speeds, the city comprises flatlands. This element also contributes to the development of the renewable energy project in the city.
Interestingly, Lubbock has a wind energy farm with more than 250 wind turbines. The energy resulting from the wind farm can serve 27,000 households per year.
Meanwhile, the steady wind speed results from the city’s geographical position. Lubbock is located on the high western plains, particularly the Llano Estacado. The city is reputable for having recorded one of the highest gusts in the country.
4. Boston, Massachusetts
- Average Wind Speed in Boston, MA:3 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Boston, MA: February and March
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Boston, MA: 90 mph on October 17, 2019
Although Boston is the fourth city on the list, it deserves more attention since it’s more populated. This city, home to Harvard and MIT, has an average wind speed of 12.3 mph.
The wind in Boston is so severe that it once unseated the 8-foot tall, over a century-old Benjamin Franklin statue. With its large population of 675,647 (as of 2020), even the average wind speed is a cause for concern, not to speak of in a cyclone.
Worse still, gusts can reach 60 mph and beyond in areas like Cape Cod. The city once experienced gusts of up to 90 mph during the intense bomb cyclone in October 2019.
Again, the wind speeds in Boston aren’t as consistent as the gusts in Lubbock, primarily because of the former’s modern landscape. The months with the most violent winds are January, February, and March, In Boston. If you’re worried about the weather, the best period to visit Boston is June to October.
5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Average Wind Speed in Oklahoma City, OK:2 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Oklahoma City, OK: February and March
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Oklahoma City, OK: 92 mph on April 16, 1990
Oklahoma City is close to Amarillo, another extremely windy city, and just like Amarillo, Oklahoma is part of Tornado Alley. This city, accommodating a substantial expanse of Route 66, houses numerous violent winds leaving a trail of damage in the Midwest.
With an average wind speed of 12.2 mph, the city has a four-month-long duration of severe winds spanning from February to May. Thus, Oklahoma City’s tornado season exceeds the wind season of the other cities on this list.
Oklahoma City’s situation in Tornado Alley is the only reason for its intense wind gusts coming from Texas. Spring is the tornado season In Oklahoma City. Beyond spring, the city experiences quite unpredictable winds.
Unlike the generally unwelcome wind gusts in Chicago and Boston, the residents of Oklahoma City believe that the winds help to blow off the hot temperatures.
6. Rochester, Minnesota
- Average Wind Speed in Rochester, MN:1 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Rochester, MN: April
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Rochester, MN: 74 mph on July 20, 2019
Minnesota is one of the flattest states in the US, holding the spot of the 5th flattest state. It’s not out of place to think that a state flatter than Kansas will lack adequate obstacles helping to reduce the wind intensity. Suffice to say, the violent winds that invade the city of Rochester move unabated.
As a city in the southeast corner of Minnesota, Rochester records an average wind speed of 12.1 mph, making it the windiest city in Minnesota. Unlike Lubbock, the city has an inconsistent wind speed causing its highest reported wind speed to be the lowest on this list.
The encounter between dry cold air from Canada and warm moist air approaching the north from the Gulf of Mexico is chiefly responsible for the winds in Rochester.
7. Corpus Christi, Texas
- Average Wind Speed in Corpus Christi, TX: 12 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Corpus Christi, TX: April
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Corpus Christi, TX: 161 mph on August 3, 1970
With an average wind speed of 12 miles per hour, Corpus Christi is the third Texas city on the list. However, the city residents greet the intense winds with a smile because it helps ward off the scorching heat of the hot summer, like in Oklahoma.
The long summer in Corpus Christi can come with temperatures above 80 °F. So, why wouldn’t the wind be seen as a relief?
Still, on the bright side, the city’s low population density and relative lack of sophisticated infrastructure make the violent winds appear less destructive. More populated cities with complex amenities would record much more losses when confronted by similar winds.
Corpus Christi has recorded winds of 161 mph, the strongest on the list. The occurrence of winds of this magnitude in Corpus Christi comes off as a surprise considering the city is located on the Gulf Coast.
There are a few reasons for this strange phenomenon, including:
- The frequent tropical activity in the city in summertime
- The city’s proximity to Mexico
- The severe heat in the long summer
Since it’s situated on the coast, Corpus Christi is typically colder than neighboring areas. This phenomenon is accountable for the temperature gradient in the city.
8. Buffalo, New York
- Average Wind Speed in Buffalo, NY:8 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Buffalo, NY: January
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Buffalo, NY: 82 mph on February 16, 1967
The city of Buffalo is situated on the banks of Lake Erie, the fourth-largest Great Lake in North America. Air moves from this lake, also known as “lake breeze,” towards the land. This event occurs when the temperature of the land exceeds the water’s.
As the warm, light air from the land rises to the sky, the colder, heavy air from the lake replaces it. This cycle is also involved in the formation of lake-effect snow in the winter. In this case, the air below freezing temperature passes over Lake Erie’s warm water.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that January is the windiest month in Buffalo. The average wind speed in the city is 11.8 mph. Still, it doesn’t justify the multiple 70 mph winds the city experiences each year.
9. Wichita, Kansas
- Average Wind Speed in Wichita, KS:5 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Wichita, KS: April
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Wichita, KS: 101 mph on July 11, 1993
Kansas, the 7th flattest state in the US, is home to the windy Wichita. Like Dodge City, the air from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado is responsible for the gusty winds in Wichita. Due to the city’s flatness, no obstacle deters the violent winds.
Compared to Dodge City, Wichita has less powerful wind gusts on average (15 mph vs. 11.5 mph). The reason for this occurrence is that the cities are situated 150 miles apart.
Still, Wichita outdoes its cousin city, Dodge City, in terms of the highest reported wind speed in both cities (101 mph vs. 84 mph). This massive wind speed in Wichita occurred during a derecho on July 11, 1993, observed from the Eisenhower Airport.
10. Fargo, North Dakota
- Average Wind Speed in Fargo, ND:2 mph
- Average Windiest Month in Fargo, ND: April
- Highest Recorded Wind Gust in Fargo, ND: 115 mph on June 9, 1959
Fargo is a city in Cass County, southeastern North Dakota. With an average wind speed of 11.2 mph, the city is the least windy city on this list on average. Still, the city, which is the setting of the famous television series Fargo, comes second based on the highest recorded wind speed (115 mph). Surprisingly, the eponymous television series wasn’t shot in the city due to the unfavorable and unpredictable wind gusts.
Fargo has experienced an average yearly wind gust of 15 mph in recent times. But taking the calculation as far back as 1948 narrows the average wind speed to 11.2 mph. Fargo’s relative flatness and its northern situation in the Red River Valley are among the factors that favor the occurrence of storms and blizzards.
The city of Fargo is generally calm in the summer. However, the city saw its highest recorded wind speed in June 1959 during a tornado.
Some Probable Disasters That Can Occur in Windy Cities
Generally, you’re likely to experience several windstorms when living or visiting windy cities. The likelihood of storms depends on the city and the time of the year. Possible damages that can result from wind disasters include:
- Damage of properties
- The collapse of buildings and homes
- Loss of life
- Economical damage
- Uprooting of trees
The possible disasters (windstorms) in windy cities include:
A tornado is a violent windstorm characterized by the contact of a migratory, swirling funnel-shaped column of air with the earth’s surface and a vertical cloud. Tornadoes are relatively frequent in the US, with Tornado Alley being the most probable region.
Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with winds in the upwards of 74 mph, typically accompanied by rain, lightning, and thunder. They occur when warm moist air over water begins to rise, with the rising air being replaced by cooler air, growing large clouds and thunderstorms in the process. Occasionally, this type of windstorm moves into temperate latitudes.
Safety Precautions When Inhabiting or Visiting Windy Cities
When visiting or residing in a windy city, it’s critical to embrace certain safety measures. These precautionary measures include the following:
- Always check the weather forecast to know when it’s best to go outside
- Ensure that your weather alerts are on
- Beware of signs of storms and postpone going outside if the weather isn’t favorable
- During a storm, hide in a storm cellar or basement
- If outside during a storm, get inside a building
- Hide behind as many barriers as possible during a storm
What are the windiest major cities in the US?
Although Dodge City is the windiest city in the US, Boston and Chicago are among the most populated windy cities in the US.
What are the windiest cities in the world?
In terms of average wind speed, Wellington, New Zealand, sits at the top position as the windiest city on earth, sporting a record 16 mph. Others include Rio Gallegos in Argentina, Perth in Australia, and Punta Arenas in Chile. However, Barros Island in Australia takes the crown when it comes to the highest recorded wind gust globally, with a stunning 253 mph.
What are the least windy cities in the US?
The least windy cities in the US include Catalina Foothills, Tucson, and Casas Adobes. These cities are all in the State of Arizona.
What is the windiest city in the US?
Dodge City, located in Kansas, is the windiest city in the US, with an average wind speed of 15 mph.
What are the windiest cities in Texas?
Amarillo (13.6 mph), Lubbock (12.4 mph), and Corpus Christi (12 mph) are the windiest cities in the State of Texas.
Generally, the United States is among the windiest countries in the world, with commonly occurring wind disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Hence, it’s vital to strictly follow precautionary measures when visiting or residing in the windiest cities, especially cities situated in Tornado Alley.
You should also adhere to the mandated building guidelines in windy cities to prevent wind-influenced building collapse.