The Beaufort Scale

Invented in 1805 by Frank 'Gusty' Beaufort to help prevent sailors from blowing off unexpectedly during perilous sea voyages, the Beaufort Scale remains the most widely used measure of wind speed and is still employed by professional windologists today. Its simple numerical scale can be understood by even those of moderate intelligence, who, if they stop dribbling on their shoes for long enough and concentrate, will grasp that the higher the force number, the windier the wind. However, if anyone should find the concept of numbers far too confusing, the scale also includes descriptions of everyday, relatable conditions, which will leave no one in any doubt about whether it's advisable to hang their washing out.

For reference, then, here is the Beaufort scale in full. You might want to jot this down; you never know when it might come in handy.


Force NumberDescriptionConditions
0RigidNo wind. The air is static, almost solid, like thick gravy or a melting Cornetto.
1Slight WaftThe feeling you might get if, say, a beetle ran over your foot or the nape or your neck was gently brushed by a pervert.
2Uninvited PumpA sudden unexpected parp of warm air. You don't know where it came from, you don't know where it's going to, and by the time you realise you felt it, it's already gone.
3Draughty BurbleA gentle but steady breeze, enough to rustle a newspaper but without turning over the page when you're trying to read the TV guide. Akin to the steady escape of air you get when you over-inflate an amphibian.
4Flappy ThrobberA pulsing series of gusts which can interfere with headwear and cause the wing mirrors on a 2007 Nissan Micra to rotate.
5Montrous BlastA sizeable gust, usually sufficient to dislodge a small rodent from a drainpipe or to inconvenience an unwary cow.
6Sustained BuffetingA continuous stream of fast moving air that can strip the veneer from a dining room table, dislodge street furniture or spontaneously redirect traffic. It is not unlikely that you could look out of your front window during a sustained buffeting and see your neighbour cartwheeling down the street.
7Squally ChuffCan blast all the wax out of your ears in two minutes flat. This type of wind can also go round corners without slowing down, so sadly there's no escaping it.
8Wild QuiveringCan uproot large trees and replant them in new locations. Under certain conditions, a bout of wild quivering has been known to rearrange all the vehicles in an underground car park.
9Severe TrembleStrong enough to blow all the words out of books, magazines and other printed matter, leaving just blank pages in its wake.
10Thunderous ClatteringWinds powerful enough to drive clouds into the sides of tall office buildings, causing substantial structural damage and making it difficult to reach the coffee machine.
11Exceptional Vicious GustinessDeliberately malicious winds that will trash your garden, upend you dustbin and carry off your greenhouse, usually while you're out.
12Spontaneous Directional TempestTheoretically, this weather phenomenon is strong enough and precise enough to pick out an individual in a crowd and remove a single item of clothing in one concentrated blast. Although it has proven to be mathematically possible, it has never been observed in nature. One man did claim to be a victim when he was discovered wandering around Trafalgar Square without his trousers, although the judge who subsequently found him guilty of indecent exposure said he wasn't fooling anyone.
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