- 21 April 2017 | Windsurfing
Squalls are extremely recurrent wind events with unpredictable consequences. They frequently occur in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
A squall is a sudden, sharp, and violent increase in wind speed that is commonly associated with torrential rains showers, snow, or thunderstorms.
Squalls are accompanied by drastic and substantial changes in the cloud patterns, cold fronts, and severe weather events. They can last for several minutes and may produce large waves.
These turbulent high winds can be easily spotted because of the distinctively shaped clouds that anticipate them.
When squalls are gone, rainbows and sunny skies take over, and the average wind speed decreases quickly. Squalls are most likely to form in areas of strong mid-level height falls
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a squall reflects a wind increase of at least 8 m/s, with a top speed of at least 11 m/s, that lasts for, at least, one minute.
Squall lines are organized lines of thunderstorms, often associated with cold fronts, that can be clearly spotted and identified by observing the formation of shelf clouds and roll clouds.
So, what is the difference between a squall and a wind gust?
A squall is a sustained high-wind phenomenon that may include several gusts. Squalls are usually more dangerous than gusts because they last longer, and are usually linked with extreme weather events.
If you're on a sailboard, you can easily control the effect of a gust, whereas if a squall is coming your way, you will have trouble handling the rig.
Squalls can be especially tricky and dangerous for sailors, airplane pilots, fishermen, windsurfers, and kitesurfers.
Learn how wind is formed.