Initially, wind speeds and measurements weren’t put in the perspective we know today. It wasn’t until 1805 when one man, Admiral Francis Beaufort, created a scale called the Beaufort scale. This measures winds based on observations rather than actual speed, depending on movement of items both on land and sea. The measurement of the Beaufort scale was ranked 0-12, with zero being calm/no winds and twelve being hurricane winds. While the Beaufort scale is still used in some areas of the world, most wind speeds are measured with digital instruments.
In the U.S., most people measure wind speed the same way we measure how fast we are driving our vehicles. This measurement is known as miles per hour (mph), which indicates how many miles an ‘object’ can travel in one hour. People who deal with aviation as well as travel in the sea, rely on knots, which is measuring the wind speeds, but use what is called a wind barb to help show direction as well as speeds. And we also have kilometers per hour for areas in the world measuring with the metric system.
Unlike the Beaufort scale relying on personal observations, meteorologists use weather instruments called anemometers to get more accurate and reliable data. Many weather stations have a cup set-up anemometer, which gives a correct depiction of how fast winds are blowing at the time. This information is computed almost immediately, which lets the meteorologists get up-to-date information. The hand-held anemometer works similarly, but instead of having spinning cups to measure the wind, a fan is built in, and gives measurements of how fast the air is moving by how fast the fan spins.
While the Beaufort scale was considered an innovative measurement system at the time, our weather patterns continue to evolve over time. For now, we don’t have plans of changing the current systems of measuring wind speeds, but this could also change in the future.