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How to Tell What Direction the Wind Is Blowing

by Crispin Trubiano
A wind sock is one useful way of determining wind direction as well as a rough speed estimate.

A wind sock is one useful way of determining wind direction as well as a rough speed estimate.

There are a number of reasons why it may be important to know which direction the wind is blowing. It may be important when lining up a drive in golf, aiming a bullet while sharpshooting, determining the best approach to an area while hunting, doing almost anything while sailing, hang-gliding, flying kites or any number of other outdoor recreational activities. Fortunately, there are a number of methods for determining wind direction, most of which are incredibly simple.

Wet your finger with water or saliva and hold it in the air. This allows you to detect even faint breezes, as the side of your finger will grow cool in the direction from which the wind is blowing.

Light a match or lighter, then observe the behavior of the flame. If the flame is leaning or blowing toward one side, the wind is coming from the opposite direction. This is not useful in high wind situations, however, as the flame may blow out instantly.

Drop something light from above your head. Feathers, pocket lint or shreds of paper work well for this. Watch the behavior of the object as it falls and you should be able to determine wind direction.

Look at a wind vane or wind sock. Whatever direction the weather vane is pointing in is the direction that the wind is coming from -- note that weather vanes do not point the same direction the wind blows. The wind sock turns toward the wind and fills out to varying degrees depending on wind speed.

Purchase a wind map. These are useful for applications such as long-distance sailing or weather balloon monitoring. Wind maps are not always 100 percent reliable, but they typically display accurate wind patterns for certain regions and are useful in specific situations.

Items you will need

  • Wind sock
  • Lint or feather
  • Water
  • Matches or lighter

About the Author

Crispin Trubiano has been working as a freelance writer since 2010. His articles appear on various websites, where he specializes in areas such as technology, health, television, film, literature and music. Trubiano currently studies sociology at Roger Williams University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images