Weather Vane Pointing
Name: Suzanne W.
Which way does the arrow on a weather vane point: Ex:
if the wind is coming out of the west and blowing straight to the east, is
a weather vane designed (balanced) to have the arrow pointing to the east,
indicating the wind is moving to the east? Or does it point to the
west, indicating from where it is coming, not going? I have asked so many
people, and on the surface it seems an easy question, but in these days,
no working weather vanes can be observed in my area.
The arrow points in the same direction that the wind is blowing. Wind from
the west, arrow points to the east.
The arrow on the weather vane always points at the direction that the wind
is coming from.
So, if the wind is coming out of the west, the arrow on the vane points to
The same is true for all wind direction sensing instruments.
David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory
I have a weather vane on the barn in my back yard and it points into the
wind. In other words if the wind is out of the north (a "northerly wind"),
the arrow points north. If you were to face north, the wind would blow in
Being an arrow, it kind of makes sense. When an arrow flies through the
air, the "wind" goes from the point of the arrow toward the tail.
Most weather vanes are designed to point in the direction the wind is coming
FROM. So if the weather vane is pointing east (an there is a wind blowing),
it is an east wind. (Recall that wind direction is also reported as the
direction FROM which the wind is coming. In the continental U.S., the
"prevailing westerlies" move from the pacific coast to the Atlantic coast,
from west to east.)
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
Weather vanes may have different appearances, but they generally have one
thing in common, and that is the direction the "arrow" points with respect
to wind direction. That part of the vane opposite, or on the other end from
the arrow is usually broader and flatter than the arrow end. That structure
will align such that it offers the least resistance to the wind, which will
point the arrow end INTO the wind. So, the arrow points to the direction the
wind is blowing FROM. You will note that most weather reports give the
direction the wind is blowing FROM, rather than the direction it is moving
And you are right, there are not many weather vanes in use any more. A good
"substitute" for wind vanes, are flag poles, except in this case, the flag
waves in the direction the wind is blow TOWARDS... So, if the flag is
pointing southeast, the wind is from the northwest.
Oh!!! There are a lot of weather vanes around. They just do not look like
weather vanes. They are flags on flag poles!!! The "stars" end of the flag
points in the direction the wind is coming from, and the amount of
fluttering is a qualitative measure of the speed of the wind.
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Update: June 2012