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The Beaufort Wind Scale
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Beaufort Wind Scale

Beaufort Number
or Force

Wind Speed

Description Effects Land / Sea
mph km/hr knots
0 <1 <1 <1 Calm Still, calm air, smoke will rise vertically.

Water is mirror-like.

1 1-3
mph
1-5
kph
1-3
knots
Light Air Rising smoke drifts, wind vane is inactive.

Small ripples appear on water surface.

2 4-7
mph
6-11
kph
4-6
knots
Light Breeze Leaves rustle, can feel wind on your face, wind vanes begin to move.

Small wavelets develop, crests are glassy.

3 8-12
mph
12-19
kph
7-10
knots
Gentle Breeze Leaves and small twigs move, light weight flags extend.

Large wavelets, crests start to break, some whitecaps.

4 13-18
mph
20-28
kph
11-16
knots
Moderate Breeze Small branches move, raises dust, leaves and paper.

Small waves develop, becoming longer, whitecaps.

5 19-24
mph
29-38
kph
17-21
knots
Fresh Breeze Small trees sway.

White crested wavelets (whitecaps) form, some spray.

6 25-31
mph
39-49
kph
22-27
knots
Strong Breeze Large tree branches move,  telephone wires begin to "whistle", umbrellas are difficult to keep under control.

Larger waves form, whitecaps prevalent, spray.

7 32-38
mph
50-61
kph
28-33
knots
Moderate or Near Gale Large trees sway, becoming difficult to walk.

Larger waves develop, white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown.

8 39-46
mph
62-74
kph
34-40
knots
Gale or Fresh Gale Twigs and small branches are broken from trees, walking is difficult.

Moderately large waves with blown foam.

9 47-54
mph
75-88
kph
41-47
knots
Strong Gale Slight damage occurs to buildings, shingles are blown off of roofs.

High waves (6 meters), rolling seas, dense foam, Blowing spray reduces visibility.

10 55-63
mph
89-102
kph
48-55
knots
Whole Gale or Storm Trees are broken or uprooted, building damage is considerable.

Large waves (6-9 meters), overhanging crests, sea becomes white with foam, heavy rolling, reduced visibility.

11 64-72
mph
103-117
kph
56-63
knots
Violent Storm Extensive widespread damage.

Large waves (9-14 meters), white foam, visibility further reduced.

12 73+
mph
118+
kph
64+
knots
Hurricane Extreme destruction, devastation.

Large waves over 14 meters, air filled with foam, sea white with foam and driving spray, little visibility.

Still in use today the Beaufort wind scale was developed in 1805, by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, of Britain.  It measures wind force on a scale of 0 to 12.

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Kilometers per hour
Miles per hour
Knots