The Jet Stream


Image Source:

1.  The field of Anemology or the Study of Wind is a relatively recent science

  • Shows like Storm Chasers really increased interest in the field toward the back end of the last decade 1

2.  George Hadley (1685 – 1768), an English physicist and meteorologist, is credited as being the first to formulate an accurate theory describing “trade winds”

  • Hadley explained trade winds relation to the Earth’s daily rotation and discussed the relevant atmospheric motions and their causes
  • He presented his ideas in a paper, “Concerning the Cause of the General Trade Winds,” before the Society in 1735
  • Hadley was in charge of the meteorological observations prepared for the Royal Society of London 2


Image Source: (note: the grid display is Jet Stream wind speed in miles per hour)


3.  Still, it was not until the onset of manned flight in the 20th Century, that scientists really began to understand the existence of the Jet Stream

  • It is debated as to who exactly discovered the Jet Stream – the Japanese, the Germans, the British, and the Americans all have claims on its discovery
  • This seems to be the rough timeline for its discovery:

1926 – A Japanese meteorologist by the name of Wasaburo Ooishi used high altitude balloons to measure wind speeds above Mount Fuji

  • He would appear to be the first to document and explain the existence of high altitude winds 3

1934 – An American aviator named Wiley Post was the first to fly solo around the world

  • To complete this feat, he used a pressurized suit enabling him to fly at high altitudes
  • He noticed that his ground and air speed measurements differed – this indicated that he was flying in an air current 4

1939 – A German meteorologist named Heinrich Seilkopf coins the term “Strahlstrommung” – that is, “Jet Stream” in a research paper 5

1943 – Royal Air Force bombers run out of fuel over occupied France against unusually strong headwinds of 54 m/s 6

1944 – American Air Force B-29’s encounter high winds at very high elevations over Japan 7

1944 – On November 3rd the Japanese began launching some 9,000 balloons during a five-month period

  • These balloons carried incendiary devices with the hopes of being carried by the high altitude winds more than 6,000 miles eastward across the Pacific to North America
  • The goal was to create enormous forest fires in North America

4.  Perhaps a thousand of these reached this continent, but there were only about 285 reported incidents

  • Most were reported in the northwest United States, but some balloons traveled as far east as Michigan 8

1945 – Allied bombers flying at 7.6 km over Germany in January 1945 encountered a tailwind of 66 m/s

  • They were covering the ground at 119 m/s, and reached their target early
  • On their westwards return, their ground speed dropped to as low as 26 m/s (94 km/h)
  • Another group also met headwinds of 53 m/s in March 1945 at the same height, and the aircrafts’ slow speed led to heavy losses from anti-aircraft fire 9

5.  Coming out of WWII, Air Forces around the world understood how important it was to understand how the Jet Stream works


“The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; the wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit.”                                                   – Ecclesiastes 1: 6

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6.  Jet streams are the world’s fastest upper-level winds and they travel on a circular path from west to east around the globe

  • They are narrow bands of wind that zip through the top of the troposphere in a west-to-east direction
  • They are usually at speeds between 80 and 190 miles per hour
  • The troposphere is the lowest level of the Earth’s atmosphere, extending to a height of about 30,000 feet above the Earth’s surface

7.  Jet streams are usually a few miles deep, up to 100 miles wide, and well over 1,000 miles long

  • Jet stream winds have been clocked at a maximum of over 345 miles per hour 10

8.  The Book of Ecclesiastes was written about 3,000 years ago

  • Solomon says that the “wind whirls continually” on “its circuit”
  • “Cabiyb” is the Hebrew transliteration of the word translated “circuit” – it means round about or circular like or on a connected circuit 11
  • It seems that Solomon described well what we see taking place within our atmosphere as it relates to the Jet Stream

9.  The Bible is accurate in its meteorology