Climatology of Peak Wind Gusts Around Lake Michigan

Brandon Selbig, “Climatology of Peak Wind Gusts Around Lake Michigan”
Mentor: Jonathan Kahl, Mathematical Sciences

Wind gusts are a major factor in different areas across not only the United States but different parts of the globe as they have different ecological and economical impacts. Specifically, wind gusts can affect different areas along bodies of water such as coastlines or in this project large lakes like Lake Michigan, as not only are different cities affected but also companies that rely on water travel. Water travel for companies along Lake Michigan have to worry about many factors driven by winds and wind gusts which can affect wave heights and the ships ability to navigate waters and also winds enhanced by lake breezes can have an affect on surrounding lakeside areas. Past researchers have taken wind measurements from US National Weather Service Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) sites from a span of years that allowed them to create gust factors (GF), the ratio of peak wind gust to average wind speed, and used them to analyze “gustiness” either across the country or for specific sites. What I plan to do is to calculate Gust Factors that are created using 1 minute wind data from 2010-2017, for ASOS sites surrounding Lake Michigan to analyze the “gustiness” across the lake. I will construct GF web plots, which illustrate gust factors and their dependence on wind speed and direction at several sites around Lake Michigan. From there we can spatially analyze how these GFs change throughout the geographic locations surrounding Lake Michigan. Also I will construct a climatology of winds in these areas over the same span of years to be able to show the windiest/gustiest times of year for a certain area around the lake. I expect the results to reveal climatological features of gustiness around Lake Michigan.


  1. Nicely done, Brandon! It’s interesting to see broad similarities in near-lake sites, with some variability on the north and south ends of the lake.

    1. Thanks Professor Evans! And yes it was an interesting outcome of results. I might look into it in the future to see if possibly different types of topography or terrain along the lakes shores have an affect on mixing and overall “gustiness”. Interesting stuff!

  2. Interesting presentation. Do you have any ideas about how people in the fields you mention that are affected by gusts (construction, etc.) could access and use these improved forecasts?

    1. Hello Anna, thanks for the question. Most lake-traveling, construction and aviation companies have either a trusted client or way to get their weather forecasts in order to avoid incidents that might put them at risk. I believe that if the GF can be implemented in weather forecasting models that pertain to these risks (Ex. wave forecast models for shipping companies) which will give forecasters a more accurate way of forecasting when it comes to winds and gusts and their effect on their environment. A better and more accurate forecast from the meteorologist, the better chance for the companies to avoid risk. Hope that answers your question!

  3. Hi Brandon, really well done. The results are interesting and have me wondering what could cause the large differences in gust factors between chicago’s midway and kpwk airports. Again great research and presentation.

    1. Thanks Austin i appreciate that! And this work couldn’t have been done without your work from the past! And yes, I agree its interesting the kind of results like the one you mentioned that came up. As I said to Professor Evans above, I think it might be worth it or at least its intriguing to me to gather some terrain and city data to see how possibly the difference in terrain around the lake (city, grassland, forests, etc.) could have some affect on the gust factors. Thanks again for your kind words!

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