winds near the Earth's surface

For scales of wind speed and of storm intensity (damage, due in large part to wind velocities), see:

Highest wind speeds, excluding tornados

The highest documented wind speed not related to a tornado is 408 kilometers per hour (113.2 meters per second, 253 miles per hour), recorded by an anemometer 10 meters above the ground on Barrow Island, Australia, on 10 April 1996 during tropical cyclone Olivia.1

All wind records in the United States, except those involving tornados, have been set on Mount Washington in New Hampshire:

U.S. Wind Speed Records
  Speed Date
Peak gust 103.6 meters per second
(231 miles per hour)
12 April 1934.
Highest 5-minute average 84.2 m/s (188 mph) 12 April 1934.
Highest 24-hr average 57.2 m/s (128 mph) 11 & 12 April 1934.
Highest monthly average 31.1 m/s (70 mph) February 1939.
Highest annual average 15.6 m/s (35 mph) 1934 and 1983.

The National Weather Service reported a wind gust of 236 miles per hour on Guam on 17 December 1997.

1. World Meteorological Organization Info note No. 58, 22 January 2010. Available on the web at www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/infonotes/info_58_en.html The note, reporting the conclusions of a panel, says “not an offical record,” but it certainly has subsequently been treated as the world record. See, for example, http://wmo.asu.edu/world-maximum-surface-wind-gust

Wind speeds in tornadoes

Two independent analyses of a tornado in Xenia, Ohio in the 1970s concluded that the peak wind speed at an altitude of 50 meters was around 115 meters per second (256 miles per hour).

On May 3, 1999, a portable doppler radar measured a wind speed of 318 ± 10 miles per hour at a height of 175 feet in a tornado on the outskirts of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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