A new theory of viscous fluid wakes behind rod-like bodies is presented and is used to study the onset and downstream development of vortex street flows. Analytical solutions are obtained for the evolution of wave number, mean centerline velocity, vortex velocity, and vortex “spacing ratio” as a function of downstream distance in a laminar vortex street. A simple criterion for the onset of oscillations in the far wake, which slightly precede vortex street initiation, is also obtained. All of these solutions account for the action of viscous diffusion in spreading the street, and they are found to compare quite well with available experimental results.

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