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NYC Hazards: High Winds


While high winds are commonly associated with severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and nor'easters, they may also occur as a result of differences in air pressures, such as when a cold front passes across the area.

High winds can cause downed trees and power lines, flying debris and building collapses, which may lead to power outages, transportation disruptions, damage to buildings and vehicles, and serious injury.

To learn more about past weather events, visit the National Climatic Data Center's storm events database.

National Weather Service Terms
  • WIND ADVISORY: Sustained winds of at least 30 mph for one hour or more, gusts from 45 to 57 mph.
  • HIGH WIND WARNING: Sustained winds at least 40 mph for one hour or more, or gusts to 58 mph or more. Warnings are issued when existing or imminent high winds cover part or all of the forecast area and pose a threat to life and property.
  • BEAUFORT WIND SCALE: Simplified scale developed to aid in the estimation of wind speed and typical effects:
    • 25 - 31 mph (Strong Breeze): Large branches in motion; whistling in telephone wires; umbrellas used with difficulty
    • 32 - 38 mph (Near Gale): Whole trees in motion; resistance felt while walking against the wind
    • 39 - 46 mph (Gale): Twigs break off of trees; wind impedes walking
    • 47 - 54 mph (Strong Gale): Slight structural damage to chimneys and slate roofs
    • 55 - 63 mph (Storm): Seldom felt inland; trees uprooted; considerable structural damage
    • 64 - 72 mph (Violent Storm): Very rarely experienced; widespread structural damage; roofing peels off buildings; windows broken; mobile homes overturned
    • 73 + mph (Hurricane): Widespread structural damage; roofs torn off homes; weak buildings and mobile homes destroyed; large trees uprooted

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