MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Why on a beach does the wind never seem to blow towards the water?

Date: Thu Aug 26 14:19:31 1999
Posted By: John O'Sullivan, Secondary School Teacher, Earth and Environmental Science, High School of Economics and Finance
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 934381354.Es

The answer to your question is actually quite simple.  Air always flows 
from high pressure to low pressure.  This is how wind is formed.  As the 
ground heats up, the air rises, causing a low pressure area.  The lake now 
has a relatively higher pressure.  The wind will flow from the lake to the 
shore, which is why it seems as though the wind is always in your face.  
If however, you were to go to the lake when it was warmer than the air, 
the opposite would be true, and there would be a gentle breeze from the 
land to the water.  This generally occurs late at night.  As an owner of a 
sailboat, there is no breeze that is better.  I can always count on wind 
at night from the shore to the water to help me.

Try going to the lake late at night, and you should feel it.  Please 
remember, however, the greater the difference in temperature and pressure, 
the stronger the wind.  If the lake and shore are about the same 
temperature at night, the wind will be very mild.

If you are interested, take two styrofoam cups, place them next to each 
other, and stick a pencil through their sides.  Turn one of the cups so 
that they are facing opposite directions.  Then tie a piece of string to 
the pencil between the two cups, and you now have a crude anometer.  Hold 
the cups in the air, and you will see the wind direction.

Hope this helps.
John O'Sullivan

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