Analysis of measurements on atmospheric turbulence with respect to the statistics of velocity increments reveals that the statistics are not Gaussian but highly intermittent. Here, we demonstrate that the higher quantity of extreme events in atmospheric wind fields transfers to alternating loads on the airfoil and on the main shaft in the form of torque fluctuations. For this purpose, alternating loads are discussed with respect to their increment statistics. Our conjecture is that the anomalous wind statistics are responsible for load changes, which may potentially contribute to additional loads and may cause additional fatigue. Our analysis is performed on three different wind field data sets: measured fields, data generated by a standard wind field model and data generated by an alternative model based on continuous time random walks, which grasps the intermittent structure of atmospheric turbulence in a better way. Our findings suggest that fluctuations in the loads might not be reflected properly by the standard wind field models. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.