What is a Gale Warning – Complete Information

Gale warnings are issued by national weather forecasting agencies worldwide when maritime zones are experiencing or will soon experience high-force winds (gale). A Beaufort wind force scale is used to measure the strength of the wind. Wind speed is measured using meters per second (m/s). The World Meteorological Organization recommends this unit for measuring wind speeds. So, what is a gale warning? Let’s dig deep and explore.

What is a Gale Warning
What is a Gale Warning

What is a Beaufort scale, and How Can You measure a Gale?

A modern Beaufort wind force scale ranges from Beaufort number 0 to 12. 0 stands for calm wind, and 12 stands for Hurricane 

Beaufort Scale NumberWind Speed ( in m/s | mph | km/h )Description  
0Less than -.5m/s | 1 mph | 2km/hCalm
10.5-1.5 m/s |1-3 mph | 2-5km/hLight air
21.6-3.3m/s | 4-7mph| 6-11km/hLight breeze
33.4 – 5.5 m/s | 8-12 mph | 12-19 km/h Gentle breeze
45.5-7.9 m/s | 13- 18 mph |20- 28 km/hModerate breeze
58 -10.7 m/s | 19-24 mph | 29-38 km/hFresh breeze
610.8-13.8 m/s | 25-31 mph | 39-49 km/hStrong breeze
713.9–17.1 m/s | 32 – 38 mph | 50 -61km/hModerate gale/ Near gale
817.2–20.7 m/s | 39-46 mph | 62-74 km/hGale
920.8–24.4 m/s | 47-54 mph | 75-88km/hStrong gale
1024.5–28.4 m/s | 55-63 mph | 89-102 km/hStorm
1128.5–32.6 m/s | 64-72 mph | 103-117 km/hViolent / Severe storm
12Equal or above 32.7 m/s | Equal or above 73 mph | Equal or above 118 km/hHurricane
What is a Beaufort scale, and How Can You measure a Gale

What is the Wind Speed of a Gale?

Moderate gale or near gale is between 13.9–17.1 m/s (28–33 knots | 32 – 38 mph | Beaufort scale 7| Wave height 13-18 feet). It is considered a gale when the wind speed reaches 17.2–20.7 m/s (34–40 knots | 39 – 46 mph | Beaufort Scale 8 | Wave height 18-25 feet). 

So, gale warnings are being issued when the wind speed reaches near 17.2 m/s or 34 knots.

In United States, the national weather service issues gale warnings for winds within 39 mph – 54 mph.

What is the Wind Speed of a Gale

How Many mph is a Gale?

It is considered a gale when the wind speed hits 34mph or 17.2 m/s. The Beaufort scale number is 8.

Is a Gale Dangerous?

Gale is not dangerous compared to a storm or a hurricane, but if a gale warning is issued, it is always better to be vigilant and avoid sea areas and places where you will get yourself exposed to heavy winds and high currents.

Can Planes Fly in Gale Force Winds?

Yes, planes can easily fly in gale force winds, The aircraft can handle it, and they are designed to face strong wind forces. What you need to do is fasten your seat belts and stay calm. Sometimes the flight can get bumpy.

What is a Whole Gale?

The whole gale is a similar word used for a storm. When the winds reach 24.5-28.4 m/s or 55- 63 mph, it is considered as a whole gale / Storm.

What is a Whole Gale

Why are They Called Gale Force Winds?

The gale-force wind is a term that is used to describe conditions that aren’t quite as extreme as hurricanes or a storm. The word gale originates from the old Norse / Danish words Gola/ Gal, which means Breeze, frantic or mad.

What is the Difference Between a Storm and a Gale?

In simple terms wind speed of a gale is 17.2–20.7 m/s (34 – 40 mph | Beaufort Scale 8 | Wave height 18-25 feet). The wind speed of a storm is 24.5–28.4 m/s (55- 63 mph |Beaufort Scale 10 | Wave Height 29-41 Feet). A storm is much stronger and more dangerous than a gale.


Gale warnings enable mariners to take preventive measures to guarantee their safety at sea, such as seeking secure harbor and riding out the storm onshore. We hope you got a clear idea about what is a gale warning and how it works.