How to Read a Wind Sock

Updated April 17, 2017

Meteorologists use wind socks to determine the direction and strength of the wind. People commonly place wind socks near airports, seaports and on roads through the mountains where wind information is crucial yet difficult to determine because of the surrounding environment. You can easily learn to read a wind sock, although you will not be able to calculate the exact speed of the wind by looking at one.

Draw a chalk arrow on the ground in the direction that the wind sock is pointing.

Place the compass over the line to read which direction the arrow is pointing.

Determine the opposite direction of the arrow. This is the direction that the wind is blowing from. For example, if the arrow is pointing northeast, the wind is blowing from the southwest.

Look at the shape and movement of the wind sock. If the wind sock is flapping softly, the wind is blowing lightly. If it is stretching out straight, the wind is very strong.


For a more precise measurement of wind speed, use an anemometer instead of a wind sock. An anemometer spins around in the wind, and you can calculate the wind speed based on the number of revolutions that the anemometer makes.

Things You'll Need

  • Chalk
  • Compass
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About the Author

Keren (Carrie) Perles is a freelance writer with professional experience in publishing since 2004. Perles has written, edited and developed curriculum for educational publishers. She writes online articles about various topics, mostly about education or parenting, and has been a mother, teacher and tutor for various ages. Perles holds a Bachelor of Arts in English communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.