Why New York’s architecture creates wind tunnels

Manhattan Skyline
Manhattan Skyline

Wind is basically air flowing between areas of high atmospheric pressure to areas of low pressure. When the high and low are in close proximity to each other, the rapid change in pressure results in strong winds. New York City‘s skyscrapers exacerbate the issue with the wind tunnel effect.

“The wind tunnel effect in New York City is basically a situation where air is being converged into a very small space and that leads to stronger winds,” said Steven DiMartino, a meteorologist and the owner NYNJPA Weather. “It’s the same process as if you take hose for water and press down a little bit and that water comes out a little faster.”

DiMartino installs anemometers on certain buildings in Manhattan to measure wind speeds between them.

“We collect that data and we get a better idea of how the wind is flowing around those buildings to give us an idea of where that convergence is happening.”

You may notice that some streets are windier than others. Part of that is due to the wind direction. A northwest wind results in windier avenues and a southwest wind results in windier streets. While winds can be strong between the buildings, once you turn a corner, they can actually double in speed.

“Where you have a convergence of the building set up on the corners that can lead to a funneling of the winds enhancing wind gusts,” DiMartino said.

Our topography and waterways also have an influence. […]


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