Wind Barbs and Hourly Weather Forecasts

Are you an hourly weather graph enthusiast like me? I’m not convinced it actually makes me more prepared, but I love to know the precise forecast at the time of my commutes or planned bike rides.

Usually I get my forecast from the National Weather Service. After putting in your zip code or City/State, you can scroll down and click the “Hourly Weather Forecast” panel on the right side. I mostly watch the top panel for temperature and the third panel for precipitation potential.

Whenever I’m spraying plots, I check the second panel for wind speed. I’ve been using the line graph part to get the speed, but I wasn’t able to get the most value out of this graph without knowing how to read the barbs that appear on every hour mark. After reading through this fact sheet from Mesonet, I learned that the number of lines on the extended part of the barb indicates the wind speed. The barb is where the wind is coming out of and the dot is where it’s blowing towards– see the graphic on the left I pulled from the Mesonet fact sheet to see some examples.

Now you too have the graph reading skills to make the most out of the hourly weather forecast!

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