At Google, the wind blows in the wrong directionPosted on December 3rd, 2012 –
We probably all refer to Google when we want to know something. However, we should never stop questioning the search results. For example when it comes to wind information, Google makes a major interpretation mistake. On the Google weather results, the wind blows in the wrong direction.
During the weekend, I was looking for weather information about La Gomera, the Spanish Canary Island. I wanted to know how favorable the wind direction is to sail from there to the Cape Verde archipelago. La Gomera is quite known among sailors as Christopher Columbus started from there in 1492 to discover the West Indies. So I googled “weather in la gomera” on my iPad.
According Google, the wind came from the south-west heading to north-east (see screenshot below – note: it seems that wind information is only visible on the iPad). I was confused as the winds around the Canary Islands are quite stable in December and usually blow in exactly the opposite direction. If Columbus had started under such conditions, his Santa Maria would have sailed him directly back to Spain. Therefore, I checked some other sources for validation. Windguru and the official meteorological GRIB data were speaking of north-easterly winds. Does Google misinterprete wind directions?
The best way to find out was to check multiple locations and compare against the official GRIB data. On the Caribbean island Curaçao, the trade winds blow constantly from the same direction – east-north-east. Even the trees grow with the wind and point westwards. Google managed to turn the trade wind 180 degrees. Same story for other locations such as Iceland, Tonga, etc.
Maybe Google follows a different definition of wind? But as far as I know there is only one definition. According Wikipedia “Wind direction is reported by the direction from which it originates. For example, a northerly wind blows from the north to the south. Wind direction is usually reported in cardinal directions or in azimuth degrees. For example, a wind coming from the south is given as 180 degrees; one from the east is 90 degrees.“
Wind directions are kind of tricky and therefore, mistakes are common. However, the Google engineers should master that. The only explanation I have is that there are no sailors, windsurfers, or similar working at Google. However, this assumption is wrong as Google CEO Larry Page is a kitesurfer.