Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The recently completed year was the windiest in Oklahoma City in almost two decades, according to National Weather Service figures.

Oklahoma City's average daily wind speed in 2008 was 12.2 mph, equaling the average recorded in 1989 and close to the 12.3 mph average recorded in 1988, said Doug Speheger, a Norman-based meteorologist with the weather service.

The city's official wind speed is recorded at Will Rogers World Airport, where a meter that reads wind speeds is located on a tower. Speheger said the meter gives a good indication of how hard the wind blows in western and central Oklahoma, which typically are windier than eastern portions of the state.

He said the state's strongest winds usually come before or during a storm blowing up either from the Gulf of Mexico or the Rocky Mountains. Wind-speed numbers in Oklahoma should not change significantly in 2009, he said.

"We live in a favorable area where these storm systems move," Speheger said. "There are very windy days from strong storm systems that move across the plains."

He said Oklahoma City's windiest day in 2008 came on May 1, when the city's strongest gust of the year, 74 mph, was recorded at the airport. Severe storms passed through central Oklahoma that day, although no serious damage was reported. Sustained winds -- which last two minutes or longer -- reached 51 mph that day.

The other windiest days in the state's capital city were on April 16 and June 5, when the average sustained wind speeds were measured at 25.7 mph and 24.9 mph, respectively.

On June 5, high waves caused a boat to capsize on Lake Hefner, resulting in the drowning deaths of two men.

Speheger said high winds also can lead to fire danger.

"Wind can really make fire behavior pretty extreme and get away from firefighters," he said. "That is the biggest danger."