The horizontal spread of a plume in atmospheric dispersion can be described by the standard deviation of horizontal direction. The widely used Pasquill-Gifford classes of atmospheric stability have assigned typical values of the standard deviation of horizontal wind direction and of the lapse rate. A measured lapse rate can thus be used to estimate the standard deviation of wind direction. It is examined by means of a large dataset of fast wind measurements how good these estimates are. (author) 1 fig., 2 refs.