Beaufort Wind Scale: A Closer Look
The Beaufort Wind Scale is a scale that is used by seamen and coastal
observers to estimate wind speed. The scale was created by British Rear Admiral
Sir Francis Beaufort in the year 1805, and it was derived from his observations of sea conditions. It was
especially important during the 19th century, because no
sophisticated wind speed-measuring equipment was available at that time. Despite
the introduction of new technologies,
it is still being used by seafarers today, and it also applied to measure wind
speed on land.
Initially, the Beaufort Wind Scale has 13 classes, which were numbered 0
to 12, to provide descriptions for various wind conditions. It was only
in 1955 that the scale was extended to include five more classes, numbers 13 to
17. The present scale also includes descriptions of the effects of wind forces
on land. The modern Beaufort Wind Scale consists of six columns, which include
Beaufort Number, Description, Wind Speed, Wave Height, Sea Conditions, and Land
Conditions. In some cases, extra columns are added to the scale to provide descriptions of coast conditions and the
performances of ships in the sea.
When the Beaufort number is 1, it means that the condition of the sea is
very calm, and there is almost no wind at all. The speed of the wind is less
than 1 mile per hour, and the surface of the sea is flat. On land, smoke will
rise vertically. When a breeze occurs, it can range from
a light breeze, which is represented by number 3, to a strong breeze, which is number 6. At number 6, the
wind speed measures 25 to 30 miles per hour, and the wave height is 9 to 13
feet. There will be frequent foam crests and long waves forming at sea. A gale
is represented by numbers 7 to 10 on the Beaufort Wind Scale, with number 10
indicating a whole gale or a storm. A whole gale usually has a wind speed of 55
to 63 miles per hour, and waves can rise to as high as 55 feet. With the
formation of huge patches of foam from high waves, parts of the surface of the sea will become
white. Visibility will be significantly reduced because of increased airborne
spray. When the Beaufort number reaches 12, a hurricane is taking place. The
wind will be moving at a speed of more than 73 miles per hour, and huge waves of
46 feet or higher will occur. The sea will be completely covered with foam, and
driving airborne spray makes visibility almost impossible.
The information provided by the
Beaufort Wind Scale is very useful to seafarers, because it can help them manage
their ships more efficiently and take measures to counter adverse sea
conditions. They will know which sails to use to take full advantage of the wind
to reach their destinations in the shortest time possible. Also, they can reduce
sails when there is a storm at sea. Some Beaufort Wind Scales include sailing
instructions for seafarers to deal with each type of wind force in his original
scale, and these have helped many seamen achieve safe and efficient voyages.
This article about the Beaufort Wind Scale is provided
as a public service by Action Car Boat,
Sailing Vessel and Yacht Donation Service which facilitates the donation of
no longer needed cars,
boats, motorhomes and trucks to support the activities of charities and
Here are websites that provide
more information about the Beaufort Wind Scale.
Beaufort Wind Scale Overview: A summary that provides
a concise description of the Beaufort Wind Scale.
History of the Beaufort Wind Scale: Comprehensive account of the history of
the Beaufort Wind Scale.
Francis Beaufort Biography: A short biography of Sir Francis Beaufort.
Beaufort Wind Scale: A version of the Beaufort Wind Scale that contains
Evolution of the Beaufort Wind Scale: Examples of Beaufort Wind Scales that
were developed throughout history.
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