Gale force winds are now hitting every weather forecast we listen to, but how many of us would know a gale from a strong breeze, or know when gale force became storm force. Here is a guide to the points on Admiral Beaufort's scale.
0: Calm: smoke rises straight upwards.
1: Light air: not strong enough to blow weather vanes, but smoke curves. Aphids and spiders take to the air. Small ripples on the sea.
2: Light breeze: Leaves rustle, all flying insects take off.
3: Gentle breeze: Leaves and twigs move constantly. Too windy for spiders and aphids.
4: Moderate Breeze: Discarded paper blows down the street; small branches move. Mosquitoes stop biting.
5: Fresh breeze: Saplings sway. Flies are grounded - except horse flies.
6: Strong breeze: Large branches move; telephone lines whistle. Moths and bees stop flying. Large waves at sea.
7: Moderate gale: Whole trees move; butterflies stop flying.
8: Fresh gale: Twigs are blown off trees. Only dragonflies remain in the air. High waves at sea.
9: Strong gale: Roof repairers' phones become busy. All insects remain on the ground.
10: Whole gale: trees are uprooted; roof repairers might be able to fit you in the Tuesday after next.
11: Storm: Widespread severe damage. Air at sea white with driving spray.
12: Hurricane: winds at speeds over 75 mph.