What are Westerlies?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

Westerlies are permanent winds that blow from west to east. They are also called anti-trade or prevailing-westerlies. These winds blow permanently between 30° to 60° latitudes, especially in the middle latitudes. They find their origin in the high-pressure areas of the subtropical temperate zone. They move towards the low-pressure areas of the sub-polar temperate zone. They are also responsible for the conduct of extra-tropical cyclones.

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Westerlies Meaning

When pressure is low at the poles the strongest winds in the winter hemisphere are the westerlies. On the other hand, when pressure is high at the poles the westerlies are weakest in the summer hemisphere.

Westerlies or anti-trade are prevailing winds that blow from the subtropical temperate zone to the subpolar temperate zone. They are confined to mid-latitudes only, i.e. between 30° to 60°. Primarily, these winds blow in a certain direction:

  • In the Northern Hemisphere, they blow from the southwest.
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, they blow from the northwest and are particularly strong in the Western Hemisphere, earning the name brave westerly winds.
  • This is because, in areas where land is absent, airflow is less obstructed and, therefore, westerly winds are stronger here.
  • The westerly winds are responsible for being the carrier of the equatorial winds and water on the western coasts.

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