In PFS I just got access to a wand with Alter Winds on it at CL 4. Initially, I was excited about the find as it would give me the option of bumping up light winds to moderate (which is just enough to start having some of the lower level cloud spells disperse).
BUT THEN I looked up some threads on uses for the spell (of which there are very, very few and most are from several years ago) and realized that the casting time is a whole minute! WHAT?!
Has anyone seen this spell used effectively, given the casting time? Please let me know about it! Is there any reason I'd want to keep this spell around on a wand? It is pretty cheap objectively, but I can get so many other scrolls with the same amount of coin, so the opportunity cost is what's putting me off here.
EDIT: I feel like the hours/level duration must give it some utility, but I can't think of anything at the moment.
Agreed, real world applications are probably where this spell shines the most!
In a more "active" setting, it perhaps could be used to deal with environmental cloud effects? I've never encountered such a thing, but I could see it coming up if you were adventuring underground, near a volcano, or things related to that (as long as you weren't thrust into the situation).
Here are my thoughts, as I was just looking in to wind spells yesterday (what are the odds?!).
First: Without intentionally building around wind effects for synergy/defense/etc, others are probably right in that the uses will be primarily utilitarian, especially for something with such a limited affected area as Alter Winds. However...
Second: My reading of the spell is that, at CL 4 you can affect winds that are already Moderate or weaker, up to one step either direction. Worthless for reducing wind effects at this level (because there are no penalty differences between light and moderate), BUT if there is already a moderate wind, you can affect it by one level to make it Strong. Still of situational usefulness, but if there are any fights against tiny creatures, you can force them to make somewhat constant checks just to be able to move. Also, and this may have more table variation, but any ranged attacks that pass through that windy area may take a -2 to-hit, giving you a crude bonus against archers and the like. Other than that, it's kind of a poor spell, mechanically.