What Is A Gale Warning?

The weather can be crazy at times. In many areas of the United States, the weather can get incredibly unpredictable and even dangerous.

This is why it is so critical to ensure you are always prepared and keeping up to date with the news and weather reports.

On these reports, you may hear something like there’s a gale warning.

In short, a gale warning is a warning that is issued when winds reach a specific speed over a specific duration of time (depending on land or sea).

These warnings will usually be issued in advance, but sometimes they can come as an unwelcome surprise.

This guide will examine what you need to know about gale warnings. Read on to learn more.


As mentioned, gale warnings are warnings issued when winds fall into specific categories.

When it comes to surface winds (on land), this is calculated when winds of 34 to 47 knots are occurring (39 to 54 miles per hour) over a ten minute period.

These speeds are the same when issuing gale warnings for marine forecasts (sea) but this is done over a 24 hour period, rather than 10 minutes.


Gale force winds can be extremely dangerous. They can cause debris to fly around, which in turn could hit, injure and even kill someone.

Additionally, gale force winds can cause significant damage to areas on the coastline, which can cause flooding – and maybe even drowning, depending on the severity of the winds.

Gale force winds have been known to damage important areas like energy buildings or even a home’s personal energy reserves.

This of course can lead to problems with things like life support systems or other essential powered units.


When such a warning has been issued, it’s important that you remain calm and try to stay as safe as possible.

Here’s some things you can do to improve your safety during this time.

Secure Your Property

It’s very common for homes to have backyard furniture or outside ornaments.

During a gale warning, these objects need to either be extremely secured outdoors and properly tied down – or better still, brought into your garage or basement.

If you do not do this, you may find these objects – not only blowing away and you losing them – but they could damage your property and possibly cause you physical harm.

Speaking of security though, let’s talk about your vehicles. If you have the ability to do so, ensure you put your cars, vans, bicycles and motorcycles in your garage.

While it is unlikely for things like cars and vans to blow away during a gale warning, it’s not impossible. But this precaution is not necessarily for this reason.

Primarily, you’ll want to put your vehicles in your garage to prevent damage caused by smaller flying objects.

Use Window Storm Shutters

If you have them, ensure you are using your storm shutters.

These are specifically designed to protect your glass windows from smashing due to flying objects and even simply through the force of the wind.

When glass breaks, it can be a serious danger to you and your family – as glass can cause cuts, scratches, bleeding and infection.

Choose A Safe Space

You’ll need to ensure that you, your family and your pets are as safe as they can be.

One of the best places to go in your home is the basement due to the lack of windows and protection from the elements.

Be aware though that gale warnings can last a while, so you may only need to choose this space for a severe gale warning.

Aside from this, ensure you are staying away from the windows and you do not leave the property unless absolutely necessary.

If a gale warning is issued in advance (also known as a developing gale), it’s a good idea to purchase some supplies – in case you need to stay in your property for extended periods.

It’s also a good idea to purchase backup for energy, such as batteries. It’s not uncommon for gales to cause damage to your energy supplies – so having a backup is ideal.

Avoid The Waters

It probably goes without saying, but if a gale warning is issued – this will affect the waters significantly. Do not go near the ocean during this time.

Avoid surfing and avoid getting on a personal boat. If you have a private boat, ensure this is protected during this time.

Secure it and protect any glass windows from potential damage by debris.

Avoid Unnecessary Travel And Plans

It will not be possible for you to fly or travel by boat during a gale warning due to the dangers this weather will cause.

As a result, it’s wise for you to avoid booking any travel at this time. Additionally, try to avoid even the most basic forms of travel, such as walking, driving or taking the bus.


Gale warnings issued by the National Weather Service will be broadcast on multiple different platforms.

Some smart devices will even alert you directly now if you are in a danger area. Here are some ways you might be told though:

  • Radio news broadcasts
  • Television news broadcasts
  • The local or sometimes national newspapers
  • Social media, depending on what groups and news you’re subscribed to
  • Weather apps on your smart devices (if you do not have one, it’s advised you download one)
  • Flags on the beach
  • Emergency SMS services
  • Word of mouth


Meteorologists will use the Beaufort scale to determine what constitutes a hurricane, tornado, breeze and gale force winds.

On this scale, gale force winds are in the 8 and 9 category. The scale for these begins at 7 known as a near-gale wind.

To put this into context, a hurricane is in the factor 12 category on the Beaufort scale.


It will depend on your job, location and your requirements.

Sometimes employers will allow their employees time off during these warnings for safety and practical reasons.

However, some employers will still expect you to show up. You should contact your employer if you are unsure when this weather warning is issued.


Gale warnings are issued to keep people safe and allow them to plan ahead due to high speed winds.

If you hear a broadcast of a gale warning, ensure you take these above steps and keep yourself safe.

Use Window Storm Shutters
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