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How are winds named?

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Quick Answer

According to Reference.com, the name of a wind is based on the compass direction from which it blows. For instance, a wind that blows from the north is known as a "north wind." Wind direction is indicated by weather vanes, lightweight, flat pieces of material mounted so they freely rotate in a horizontal plane.

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Full Answer

According to About.com, the two components of wind are speed and direction. Unequal heating of the surface of the Earth creates areas of high and low pressures. Such pressure differentials cause air to move. The strength of these pressure systems and their relative distance affect wind speed.

While winds generally blow in a path from areas of high pressure to low pressure, the rotation of the earth toward the east causes deflection of air to the right of the direct path in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere. According to About.com, this deviation caused by the earth's rotation is known as the Coriolis force. The Coriolis force is proportional to the speed of the wind, causing stronger winds to deflect even more. The Coriolis force is latitude dependent. Its greatest effects occur at the poles, but it is nonexistent at the equator.

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