When Recording Sound in extreme wind, you need extreme wind protection. Do not expect to just use a foam windscreen to be the end all be all solution for wind. There are many choices, and you may need to even combine pieces in order to capture a quality track.
When wind hits a microphone, its bad. There is too much force from the wind for the delicate capsules to handle. Different materials block wind more efficiently than the next, which is why there are different products, like foam windscreens, windjammers, and zeppelins.
Here is a quick breakdown of wind and when to use what. Let’s start indoors in a room with “dead air”, which means there is no movement. If you are filming an interview with talent in a fixed position, I would not be worried about using only the microphone with no windscreen. In these interview examples, the microphone is out of the way of any plosive sounds. It can capture everything from above perfectly.
Just remember that even air conditioners move enough air that it can affect the microphone if in its air path. If you have ANY chance in a room where you cannot control air conditioners, then you need play it same and at least use a foam windscreen.
Foam windscreens are great for indoor scenes with minimal cueing (the art of moving the microphone back and forth between actors as the play out the scene). I would say a minimum distance of around 6 feet is appropriate for this type of product, since the wind generated from moving the boom pole back and forth can usually handle the load. When there is a lot of quick cueing back and forth it is best to use two boom operators. If that isn’t possible, then its time to up the wind protection to a windjammer. These have a synthetic material inside that breaks up wind before it can reach the microphone. To top it off, it has a fuzzy material on top that is considered the first part of wind defense. I will be honest, with a great windjammer, you rarely need anything better…
Unless you are in crazier wind, lets say 10 miles per hour and more. In these types of situations, you need a zeppelin. These devices encapsulate the microphone inside in a suspended fashion, followed by an outer shell. This device suspends the microphone inside the unit. It has its own windjammer cover that industry professionals have coined “dead cat” for years. With your zeppelin and windjammer, you can withstand the greatest of bursts and gusts.
Another thing to think about when working in extreme wind is to not wear earbuds. You will hear the wind tracing around your ears. It is best to get something like a Sony MDR 7506, or even a Sennheiser HD280 (I have just learned there is a newer version called the Sennheiser HD380 that I am now jealous of as well). I highly recommend picking up at least one of these pairs of headphones so you have appropriate gear for when this type of job comes.