Weather Matters with Matthews (10/03/21): Weather Fronts

Weather Wisdom

Hello everyone! Welcome back to another episode of “Weather Matters with Matthews.”
For this episode, I will be talking about weather fronts. You probably see these all the
time when watching a weather forecast on the news, but what are weather fronts and what purpose
do they serve? A weather front is a boundary where two different air masses at the
Earth’s surface interact with each other.
The two air masses have different temperature and moisture characteristics.
Typically, in the Twin Tiers, the air masses that interact with each other
show large differences in temperature. There are four different types of
weather fronts at the surface.

A cold front forms when a cold air mass pushes into a warm air mass.
These fronts move fast, so when the cold and denser air mass interacts with
the warm and less dense air mass, the warm air rises very quickly. The
moisture that flows with the warm air condenses quickly and can produce
large, thick, and puffy storm clouds called “cumulonimbus clouds.” A cold
front is a useful feature that forecasters use when predicting heavy rain,
thunderstorms, and sudden drops in temperature.

A warm front forms when the cooler air mass retreats, and the warmer air moves in.
These fronts do not move as quickly as cold fronts. Therefore the warm air does
not rise as quickly. The clouds that form over this front are typically more
widespread and flat compared to the clouds that form over a cold front. Rain
is also likely to happen in this scenario. In this case, the rain would typically
be light and widespread. Thunderstorms can also happen if the air is unstable
enough.

A stationary front forms when both air masses stay put. This can happen if the
winds blow parallel with the air masses rather than against them. There are often
differences in temperature and wind direction on opposite sides of this front.
These differences can often lead to cloudy weather with rain or snow, especially
if the front is near an area of low pressure.

When a cold front overtakes a warm front, you get a new type of front called
an occluded front. At an occluded front, the cold air mass behind a cold front meets with the cool
air mass ahead of the warm front. The warm air rises and these masses come together.
With an occluded front, you often get tall and flat storm clouds together. The wind
changes quickly and the temperature either rises or drops.

Weather fronts are very useful for forecasting because they help us predict chances for severe weather in our area.

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