Map: Majority of U.S. clocked above-normal wind speeds in 2011

A renewable energy risk analysis firm took meteorological data and produced a map that shows much of the United States was blowin' in the wind in 2011.

If it seemed windier than usual last year, you weren't imagining it. 3Tier, a renewable energy risk analysis firm, recently released a map that illustrates the windier-than-average conditions last year in the majority of the continental United States.

A big slice of the U.S. -- from northern Montana to Texas and the mid-Atlantic states -- had wind speeds five percent to 15 percent above normal. The Pacific Northwest and New England had wind speeds roughly five percent below average for the year, according to 3Tier.  The company create the map by comparing its continually updated meteorological data with average wind conditions between 1969 and 2008.

What was behind the above average wind speeds? A stronger La Nina, which ramped up later than initially forecasted, combined with a negative Pacific/North America pattern cause a windy spring. As folks living in wildfire-plagued Oklahoma and Texas undoubtedly remember, winds were particularly strong last summer in the southern states, where warm and dry conditions continued under a large upper-level ridge that suppressed winds to the north.

Aside from the nifty visual and opportunity to geek out on data, the map does hold value, especially if you're a wind developer. The data provides the kind of operational intelligence that wind farm developers and investors need to determine the best locations and assess existing projects.

Photo:  Flickr user JLStricklin, CC 2.0

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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