While listening to weather forecasts the words gust and wind are often deemed to be the same. However, not many of us know these two are actually quite different than what is generally perceived.
Gust vs Wind
The difference between gust and wind is that gusts are actually 30 times stronger than the average sustained wind. Although gusts are a variation of wind, it is noteworthy that gusts commonly last less than 20 seconds.
Gusts are formed when winds meet obstacles such as a building or an irregular ground whereas winds are formed due to the atmospheric pressure difference caused by unequal heating of the earth’s surface.
Another difference is that gusts hit suddenly as a strong surge of wind while winds are a steady flow of gasses from a high-pressure region to a low-pressure region. Unlike winds, gusts are not commonly seen over water bodies whereas wind can be anywhere, and everywhere there is a pressure difference.
Comparison Table Between Gust and Wind (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Gust||Wind|
|Strength||30% stronger than wind||30% weaker than gusts|
|Duration||Less than 20 seconds||Flows continually|
|Caused by||When winds hit an obstacle such as a high ground or building||Flow of air from high pressure to low pressure area|
|Geographic location||Flows mostly above the ground and occasionally over water||Flows both above ground and water|
|Factors affecting||Height of the obstacle, dynamics of the terrain, average wind speed, etc.||Earth’s rotation, heating by the Sun, pressure difference in atmosphere, etc.|
What is Gust?
Gusts are a variation of wind that is formed when winds meet an obstacle such as a high terrain or a tall structure or buildings. Therefore gusts are commonly found over grounds and not so much on water bodies.
However, gust can also occasionally occur over water due to changes in wind speeds and wind direction causing turbulence and friction in the region. Gusts are formed over grounds due to friction between heavy cold air settling down and lighter thermal air rising.
Gusts are about 30% stronger and have a higher speed than average winds but are strongly determined by the average sustained wind speed. So the higher the average wind speed the stronger is a gust.
Besides average wind speed, other factors affecting gust are dynamics of the terrain, local topography, shape of the structure, and atmospheric pressure.
A gust is defined as a sudden surge of strong winds that typically last less than twenty seconds and is followed by a lull. Gusts are characterized by peak wind speed crossing 18 mph and a minimum of 10 mph difference between peak and lull wind speed.
What is Wind?
Winds are created when air flows from a region of high pressure to a region of low pressure. Wind speeds are measured using a device called an anemometer. In other words, they are a flow of gasses trying to get to a condition of equilibrium.
While varied atmospheric pressure is the main cause behind the formation wind, it is also very much affected by the Earth’s rotation, the Sun’s heating pattern, varied heating of the equator and poles, and many more. About two percent of Sun energy reaching Earth is converted into wind energy.
Winds are classified in numerous types depending upon its region of origin, wind speed, effects of the wind, causes of origin, the density of gasses, etc. They may be classified into gusts, squalls, breeze, or more fierce hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes.
They can also be classified into planetary and solar winds depending on their origin. Planetary winds are the result of gasses leaking out of Earth’s atmosphere into space while solar winds are gasses released from the sun into space.
Main Differences Between Gust and Wind
- The main difference between gust and wind is that gusts are 30% stronger than average sustained winds.
- Another difference is that gusts are short-lived and are typically followed by a lull after 20 seconds while winds last longer.
- Gusts are caused by obstacles such as high grounds or tall structures and buildings while winds flow due to the difference in atmospheric pressure.
- Gusts are affected by factors such as local topography and sustained wind speeds while winds are determined by Earth’s rotation, Sun’s heating patterns, the pressure difference in the atmosphere, etc.
- A key difference between gust and wind is that gust is a part of wind whereas the term wind covers numerous types such as squalls, breeze, cyclones, etc.
Gust and winds are common terminologies that are used by weather reporters which are often deemed the same by common people. However, there is quite some difference between the two such as their origin and causes.
The main difference between gust and wind is that gusts are significantly stronger and abrupt while winds are more constant and their average speed is lower than that of gusts.
However, gusts are only short-lived and typically last for about 20 seconds which are then followed by a lull whereas winds can last for hours with occasional shifts.
The causes of gusts are mainly high altitude terrain or friction between rising hot air and falling cold air on the ground whereas winds are typically created due to differential atmospheric pressure. However, gusts are also created by changes in wind direction and wind speed over water bodies.
Other causes that affect wind formation are Earth’s rotation, the Sun, and pressure differences between the equator and the poles on the contrary gusts are affected by factors such as the altitude of the obstacle, average wind speed, and local topography.
Gusts are typically characterized by winds that have peaks above 18 mph and the difference between the peak speed and lull is at least 10mph whereas winds can vary from a light breeze to as fast as a tornado or a cyclone.
Another difference is that gusts are usually dry winds whereas winds can be dry or wet depending upon the region of origin.