Weather Vane – an Instrument Used for Showing the Direction of the Wind

Weather Vane – an Instrument Used for Showing the Direction of the Wind

A weather vane, also known as a wind vane, is a device used to indicate the direction of the wind. It is a device that indicates the direction of the wind. It specifically tells you which direction the wind is blowing. In other words, a “southwest” reading on a wind vane indicates that the wind is coming from the southwest and heading northeast. It is typically used as an architectural ornament on a building’s highest point. The word vane is derived from the Old English word fana, which means “flag.”

Around the same time in the 2nd century BCE, ancient China and Greece independently invented the weather vane. The Huainanzi contains the earliest written reference to a weather vane, and a weather vane was installed on top of Athens’ Tower of the Winds.

How does a weather vane work?

While many weather instruments are designed to be somewhat complex, wind vanes are typically quite simple. A fin will usually sit on top of, or hang below, a spindle that allows the fin to rotate on a horizontal plane. The wind vane, like anemometers (which measure wind speed), can measure activity regardless of wind direction by being placed on a horizontal plane. Weather vanes are placed in high places to avoid interference and to catch the cleanest breezes.

The fin will typically have a point on one end and a long, broad shape on the other. This ensures that the fin always points in the direction of the wind’s origin.

Weather vanes, while partially functional, are mostly decorative, often featuring the traditional cockerel design with letters indicating the points of the compass. Ships, arrows, and horses are also common motifs. Not every weathervane has a pointer. When the wind is strong enough, the head of the arrow or cockerel (or equivalent, depending on the design) will indicate which way the wind is blowing.


A wind vane can be used for a variety of purposes. These can include increased enjoyment of recreational activity, increased safety, property protection, and general enjoyment of weather observation.

  • Safety – Wind conditions are important during severe weather events. A wind vane can help you determine whether a storm is moving toward or away from you if one is in your area.
  • Property Protection – Another advantage of knowing the wind direction during a storm is being able to determine if your personal property is in danger.
  • Boating, Remote Control Aircraft, Golf, and Other Activities – Knowing the wind direction can help you fine-tune a tee shot down a long fairway or adjust the angle of a sail boat.
  • Weather Observation – Weather enthusiasts genuinely enjoy keeping track of weather conditions simply for the sake of doing so. A weather vane adds another important data point to weather observation.