From Calm to Storm: the Origins of the Beaufort Wind Scale

By Dennis Wheeler and Clive Wilkinson, published May 2004

Abstract

A sample of 2,700 in Royal Navy eighteenth century logbooks was examined to show that terminology describing wind strengths gradually became standardised during the century. Analysis shows that by 1800 terminology to record wind strengths was evolving and becoming increasingly detailed but that use of adjectives to qualify the term “gale” was not yet standard. When Francis Beaufort went to sea in 1789 he became a user of this system and gradually refined his own version.  His wind force scale refined those developed by Dalrymple and other mariners. The Admiralty promulgated Beaufort’s seamen’s’ criteria for describing wind conditions in 1838, one year before he became Hydrographer. His wind force scale was adopted for international use by the First Maritime Conference in Brussels in 1853.

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Filed under: Other (Eighteenth C) | Other (Nineteenth C) | East India Company
Subjects include: Administration | Navies | Ship Handling & Seamanship

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