Resource Library

ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY

ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY

Beaufort scale

Beaufort scale

The Beaufort scale, officially known as the Beaufort wind force scale, is a descriptive table

Grades

6 - 12+

Subjects

Earth Science, Health, Meteorology

Powered by
Morgan Stanley

The Beaufort scale, officially known as the Beaufort wind force scale, is a descriptive table. It depicts the force of wind by a series of numbers from 0 to 12. Actually, the Beaufort scale goes all the way to 17, but the last five numbers only apply to tropical typhoons. These numbers are only used in the areas around China and Taiwan.

The scale is named for Sir Francis Beaufort of the British Royal Navy. In 1805, he devised a method of describing wind force according to procedures for setting sails on a warship.

The Beaufort scale is useful for estimating wind power without wind instruments.

0: Calm and still.

Smoke rises vertically.

1. Light winds at 1-5 kph (1-3 mph).

Smoke drift shows wind direction.

2. Light breeze at 6-11 kph (4-7 mph).

Wind can be felt on face, flag ripples.

3. Gentle breeze at 12-19 kph (8-12 mph).

Flag waves.

4. Gentle breeze at 20-28 kph (13-18 mph).

Paper and leaves are scattered.

5. Fresh breeze at 29-38 kph (19-24 mph).

Small trees sway, whitecaps form on waves.

6. Strong breeze at 39-49 kph (25-31 mph).

Umbrellas are hard to use, large branches on trees move.

7. Moderate gale at 50-61 kph (32-38 mph).

Trees sway, walking in the wind is difficult.

8. Fresh gale at 62-74 kph (39-46 mph).

Twigs and branches break off of trees.

9. Strong gale at 75-88 kph (47-54 mph).

Roof tiles blow off buildings.

10. Whole gale at 89-102 kph (55-63 mph).

Trees are uprooted.

11. Storm at 103-118 kph (64-73 mph).

Widespread damage to vegetation and buildings, nearly no visibility at sea.

12. Hurricane at 119-220 kph (74-136 mph).

Category 1 hurricane, Category 1 tornado. Widespread destruction.

Fast Fact

Hurricane Warning
Hurricane warnings are issued when winds reach 12 on the Beaufort scale. But actual hurricane categories are determined by different factors. A 12 on the Beaufort scale is a Category 1 (lowest level) hurricane, but a 13 on the Beaufort scale is not Category 2it's actually much, much stronger.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Writers
Kim Rutledge, Kim Rutledge
Melissa McDaniel, Melissa McDaniel
Santani Teng, Santani Teng
Hilary Hall, Hilary Hall
Tara Ramroop, Tara Ramroop
Erin Sprout, Erin Sprout
Jeff Hunt, Jeff Hunt
Diane Boudreau, Diane Boudreau
Hilary Costa, Hilary Costa
Illustrators
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society,
Tim Gunther, Tim Gunther
Editors
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Kara West, Kara West
Educator Reviewer
Nancy Wynne,
Producer
National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact ngimagecollection@natgeo.com for more information and to obtain a license. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. She or he will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.

Media

If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.

Text

Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.

Interactives

Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources