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Katy Trail Rock Island Spur Comments
Wind on the Katy - science says "South"

From time to time, there are lengthy discussions on this forum about which direction is better for biking the Katy. The majority have said West to East, but I have disagreed because wind is so unpredictable. And when it hits the river bluffs it can change direction several times in a mile. So, what does the science say?

Turns out that the University of Missouri has monitors set up to track the speed and direction of the wind from quite a few sites around the state. This data is plotted onto "wind rose" graphs that give a visual representation as to the direction and magnitude throughout the year. Here is the full list of sites:

If you pick the middle of the trail (Jeff City), you will see that the strongest winds are from the Southeast and the Northwest. If you pick the East end (St. Louis), the predominant wind is from the South. Go to the West end (Green Ridge) and the winds are mostly clustered from the South, but not with the variability of St. Louis.

Who knew the winds could be so dramatically different over a 250-mile stretch?

There are other sites that show the wind being stronger from July-September, and of course, stronger in the afternoon.

I guess the bottom line is, you can't count on the wind direction on any particular day, but if you want to minimize its effects, ride in the morning or evening from May-June or in October.

Happy riding!
posted Aug 10 2015 3:25PM - BikerBoy, Edwardsville, IL

Too bad no data was collected more near or on the Katy.
posted Aug 11 2015 11:58AM - Anonymous

I like the graphical forecast under the homepage weather guide split in three segments of the trail. It gives you all the variables in a one page view for the area choosen. Designed for pilots but also good to use for planning on the Katy.
posted Aug 11 2015 12:38PM - Gary, Near Tebbetts

As a guy who has spent a lot of time on a bike on a road, and on a rail trail, I say that while the wind matters on Katy, it doesn't matter anywhere near as much on Katy as it does on an open road. Trees and brush that line the trail give bicycle riders a tremendous amount of protection from the wind as compared to riding on the road. Even in places where there is little to block the wind, just keep going, and you will come to a place where where you are once again sheltered from the wind. The trees effectively become a pace line much of the time.
posted Aug 11 2015 8:48PM - ArkyKenny

Agree with Arky on this one...except to point out that on the western end of the trail there is a fair amount of "exposed" riding...few trees...and in my experience, the wind is OFTEN (but not always) out of the south/southwest...which is one of several reasons that I prefer riding west to east. Not a deal breaker either way...but just my preference.
posted Aug 11 2015 10:10PM - Anonymous

Arky is correct for most rail trails due to the rail locations from town to town an along geographic advantages they have cover. Also most riders get the open trail segments done in the west parts, less inhabited an away from the river, done first. Finally wind usually is one of the least challenges on the KT in the summer months.
posted Aug 12 2015 5:46AM - Anonoh

By the way when were you Arky in a pace line?
posted Aug 12 2015 8:34AM - Anonoh

Tags: Machens, Clinton, Green Ridge, Jefferson City, St Charles, St Louis, Weather, Trip Preparation, Trail Conditions Modify Tags

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