When the Wind Blows

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In the past, readers have challenged my assertion that wind in the Great Plains blows mostly in the winter.  In fact, I was once taken to task for it by a Colorado State Representative (a know-nothing Republican from suburbia) when I was testifying as to the advantages of Solar in Colorado in terms of timing.  In the past, I’ve only had secondary references to "NREL data," and ERCOT’s Analysis of Transmission Alternatives for Competitive Renewable Energy Zones in Texas (pdf, 8MB), where wind in the Texas panhandle also conforms to this pattern.

However, I was just browsing NREL’s Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States, and was able to see it quite dramatically from the maps.  As the Atlas says: "Because there is considerable seasonal variation in the wind energy resource, with maxima in winter and spring and minima in summer and autumn throughout most of the contiguous United States, assessments of the wind energy resource have also been produced for each season."  Here are the maps all on one page so you can see the difference (white/orange wind is weak; blue/magenta is strong.)

Map 2-12 Winter wind resource estimates in the contiguous United States

Map 2-14 Summer wind resource estimates in the contiguous United States

Map 2-13 Spring wind resource estimates in the contiguous United States

Map 2-15 Autumn wind resource estimates in the contiguous United States

Quite dramatic, isn’t it?  It’s also clear why T. Boone is building his wind farm in the Texas panhandle.

Tom Konrad


  1. Interesting article. I didn’t realize the wind ebbed and flowed so much seasonally. T. Boone definitely found a sweet spot in Texas, all blue -all the time. Know nothing Republican from suburbia? Is this a financial website or a political one?

  2. Jeff- Alternative Energy is political, like it or not. It would be good for Renewable Energy in Colorado if that particular know-nothing were voted out of office, since he sits on the Energy committee and reflexively opposes clean energy legislation.
    I’ll also say that I personally donated to the Obama campaign, because he understands what needs to be done, as opposed to McCain, who makes a few of the right noises, but has about the same level of understanding as Paris Hilton. And I’ll also say that although I’m currently aligned with the Democrats, it’s only because they have better policies. In a previous election, I voted for John McCain in the primary.

  3. I happen to live in Central Kansas and can attest to these graphs that the wind blows there frequently and highly. I believe Kansas is uniquely positioned to take advantage of wind. We have a wind farm in the county next to us to take advantage of that wind. Interesting article (and website) and, yes, I happen to be a Republican who is highly in favor of alternative energy and conservation and would support anyone’s plan for better use of energy (Republican or Democrat).


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