A relaxing day on the beach could be just what you need to unwind and destress, but sometimes it is not so pleasant. Beaches are always windy, and sometimes the wind can be so strong that it is downright unpleasant on the beach. Sand stings your legs and goes in your eyes. There are several reasons why beaches are windy, but knowing some facts can help you choose the best time to visit the beach.
Beaches are windy because land and water heat up at different rates. The heat of the land and water causes the atmospheric pressure to change to either high or low pressure. Air proceeds from high to low pressure, creating wind. Local winds known as land and sea breezes cause the beach to be windy.
The reason beaches are windy is explained by some scientific principles, which are interesting and easy to understand.
Water And Land Have Different Specific Heat Capacity
In order to understand why beaches are windy, it is necessary to grasp some basic physics rules. Specific heat capacity refers to the heat needed to raise the temperature of a substance or system by one degree Celsius. Water and land have different specific heat capacities.
It takes more heat energy to warm water by one degree Celsius than to warm land by one degree Celsius. Another way of explaining this is that land heats up and cools down quicker than water.
How Do Convection Currents Affect Atmospheric Pressure?
As land or water warms, it heats or cools the air in contact with its surface. This air, in turn, heats or cools the air above it. Air molecules that are heated begin to move upwards as they gain energy. Air that cools loses energy and sinks downwards. This movement of air upwards or downwards is known as a convection current.
Air that heats up and causes an updraft creates low-pressure cells in the atmosphere. Air that cools and sinks in a downdraft creates high pressure in the atmospheric system. An essential physics law is that air moves from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. The lateral movement of air is known as wind.
How Does Wind Form At The Beach?
The sun heats the land during daylight hours causing low pressure. The ocean takes longer to warm and is, therefore, cooler and has a higher air pressure over it. The wind blows from the sea to the land and is called a sea breeze.
At night, the land cools quickly and becomes colder than the sea. There is high pressure over the land and low pressure over the sea. The wind blows from the land to the sea and is called a land breeze. The wind is always named according to where it originates.
Land and sea breezes are local winds as they influence only the immediate area around the beach. This is why as you travel inland, away from the beach, the wind lessens. Beaches are windy at night and during the day, but the direction differs.
What Is The Nicest Time To Go To The Beach?
Generally, the best time to go to the beach to avoid the wind is in the morning. During the morning, the land is still heating up, and the low pressure in the air is still developing. This means there is less wind or air movement as the difference in atmospheric air pressure over the land and sea is minimal.
The worst time to visit the coastline is in the afternoon. The beach will be very windy as there is the most air movement from the sea to the land during this time. The beach will also be very windy in the early morning hours before sunrise as the land wind will be strongest during this period. Of course few of us go to the beach at night!
Why Are Beach Winds Stronger On Some Days?
Some days at the beach are unpleasant because of the strength of the wind, and others are not so windy. The reason the wind fluctuates is directly related to temperature. Hot sunny days heat the land very quickly, resulting in a more significant difference in temperature between the land and the sea. On these days, the wind will be strong.
If the temperature is cooler and there is cloud cover, the land will heat up less, resulting in minimal heat and atmospheric differences between land and sea. The winds on the beach will be mild on those days.
During winter, the land does not usually heat up as much, so the winds will be weaker and will be influenced by coastal currents, prevailing winds, and other weather conditions.
What Other Factors Affect Land And Sea Breezes?
Ocean currents can be cold or warm, depending on where they originate. Sea currents that arise from the equator are warm. Currents that originate in the poles are cold and cool the general temperature of the sea.
These currents, therefore, affect the difference in temperature between land and sea and consequently the strength of the land and sea breezes.
Prevailing winds are regional winds resulting from weather conditions and atmospheric pressure over the larger land and sea area. Sometimes the winds on the beach appear to blow sideways. This is often due to the prevailing wind interfering with the sea or land breeze.
Geographical structures such as headlands, bays, or coastal mountain ranges also affect the winds altering the land and sea breeze in both strength and direction. Some coastal towns are particularly windy, and some are less so.
Beaches are windy because of differences in the way that water and dry land heat. The temperature differences cause atmospheric differences, which result in wind. The wind blows from the sea during the day and from the land during the night.
The best time of the day to go to the beach is usually during the morning. Wait for a few hours after the sunrise before setting off on your beach expedition as the wind should then be blowing the least.