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Jonathan D. W. Kahl, Brandon R. Selbig, and Austin R. Harris


Wind gusts are common to everyday life and affect a wide range of interests including wind energy, structural design, forestry, and fire danger. Strong gusts are a common environmental hazard that can damage buildings, bridges, aircraft, and trains, and interrupt electric power distribution, air traffic, waterways transport, and port operations. Despite representing the component of wind most likely to be associated with serious and costly hazards, reliable forecasts of peak wind gusts have remained elusive. A project at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee is addressing the need for improved peak gust forecasts with the development of the meteorologically stratified gust factor (MSGF) model. The MSGF model combines gust factors (the ratio of peak wind gust to average wind speed) with wind speed and direction forecasts to predict hourly peak wind gusts. The MSGF method thus represents a simple, viable option for the operational prediction of peak wind gusts. Here we describe the results of a project designed to provide the site-specific gust factors necessary for operational use of the MSGF model at a large number of locations across the United States. Gust web diagrams depicting the wind speed– and wind direction–stratified gust factors, as well as peak gust climatologies, are presented for all sites analyzed.

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