What are Westerlies? 

By Devyani Singh|Updated : July 6th, 2022

The Westerlies also called the anti-trades or the prevailing-westerlies, are permanent winds that blow from the west to the east. These winds blow permanently in the middle latitudes, to be specific, between the latitudes of 30° to 60°. 

They find their origin in the high-pressure areas of the sub-tropical temperate zone. They move towards the low-pressure areas of the sub-polar temperate zone. They are responsible for steering extra-tropical cyclones as well.

Simple Definition of Westerlies

Westerlies or the Anti-trades are the prevailing winds that flow from the sub-tropical temperate zone to the sub-polar temperate zone. They are limited to the middle latitudes only, that is, between 30° to 60°.

Predominantly, these winds blow in a fixed direction;

  • In the Northern Hemisphere, they blow from the southwest. 
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, they blow from the northwest.

The westerlies are specifically strong in the Southern Hemisphere, earning the name of the ‘Brave West Winds’. This is because in areas where the land is absent, the wind flow is less interrupted and hence, the westerlies are stronger here. 

The westerlies are responsible for being the carriers of the equatorial winds and waters to the western coasts.

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FAQs on What are Westerlies?

  • True to their name, the westerlies are prevailing or permanent winds that blow from the west in the area designated by the middle latitudes. They move from the high-pressure sub-tropical area to the low-pressure sub-polar area.

  • The westerlies are both; warm and cold. The westerlies in the winters often come from the southwest and bring in the warm breeze. In summers, they flow from the northwest and bring in the much cooler breeze from the arctic.

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