A cold front normally occurs when a huge mass of cold and chilly air meets a mass of warm air, and the chilly air starts advancing on the warm air.
As soon as the cold front passes, the weather temperature starts becoming cooler and can drop by 4 degree Celsius or even more.
It can also bring rain, thunderstorms or gusty winds. The cold fronts move twice as faster as compared to warm fronts.
The cold air is extremely dense, which provides it with the capability of moving ahead quickly and plow the mass of warm air that is in front of it.
Warm air that is lifted up produces the cumulus clouds as well as thunderstorms. The atmospheric pressure also starts changing to a great extent. Thus, the cold front makes an area cooler.
Types of Weather Fronts
When a front passes through an area, the weather changes. Rain, thunderstorms, high winds, and tornadoes are all caused by weather fronts. There may be tremendous thunderstorms when a cold front passes through. Low stratus clouds may form along a warm front. Once the front has passed, the skies are usually clear.
At the Earth’s surface, a weather front is a transition zone between two separate air masses. The temperature and humidity parameters of each air mass are different. Turbulence is common along a front, which is the point where two separate air masses collide. Clouds and storms might form as a result of the turbulence.
Some fronts only generate temperature changes rather than clouds and storms. Some storm fronts, on the other hand, are responsible for the world’s most powerful storms. Tropical waves are fronts that form off the coast of Africa in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. If conditions allow, these fronts could develop into tropical storms or hurricanes.
Over the course of several days, fronts sweep across the Earth’s surface. High winds, such as Jet Streams, are frequently used to steer movement. Mountains, for example, can alter the route of a front.
Cold fronts, warm fronts, stationary fronts, and occluded fronts are the four categories of weather fronts.
When a cold air mass collides with a warmer air mass, a cold front forms. The weather can change dramatically when a cold front passes through. They can travel twice as quickly as a warm front. The heavier (denser) cool air pushes under the lighter (less dense) warm air as a cold front advances through an area, forcing it to climb into the troposphere. Cumulus or cumulonimbus clouds and thunderstorms form as warm air is lifted ahead of the front.
Winds increase stronger as the cold front passes. A significant drop in temperature occurs, as well as heavy rain, occasionally accompanied by hail, thunder, and lightning. At the front, atmospheric pressure shifts from decreasing to increasing. You may notice that the temperature has dropped, the rain has ceased, and the cumulus clouds have been replaced by stratus and stratocumulus clouds or clear skies after a cold front passes through your area.
A cold front is depicted on weather maps as a solid blue line with filled-in triangles running parallel to it, as shown in the map. The triangles act as arrowheads, pointing in the direction of movement of the front.
When a warm air mass pushes into a cooler air mass, as depicted in the illustration to the right, a warm front forms (A). Warm fronts frequently produce stormy weather as the warm air mass rises over the cool air mass, forming clouds and storms. Warm fronts travel more slowly than cold fronts because warm air has a harder time pushing cold, dense air across the surface of the Earth. Warm fronts are formed when warmer air from the south is pushed north on the east side of low-pressure systems.
A warm front is often accompanied with high clouds such as cirrus and cirrostratus, as well as medium clouds such as altostratus. Warm air rises high above cool air, forming these clouds. The clouds become lower when the front passes over a location, and rain is expected. If the air is unstable, thunderstorms may form near the warm front.
The surface position of a warm front is indicated on weather maps by a solid red line with red, filled-in semicircles running along with it, as shown in the map to the right (B). The semicircles represent the front’s movement direction. They’re on the side of the line that’s moving forward.
When a cold front or a warm front stops moving, a stationary front forms. When two masses of air press against one other but neither is powerful enough to move the other, this occurs. Winds blowing parallel to the front rather than perpendicular to the front can assist it to stay still.
It’s possible that a stationary front will stay put for days. The front will begin to move again if the wind direction changes, becoming either a cool or warm front. Alternatively, the front may disintegrate.
Because a stationary front separates two air masses, there are frequently temperature and wind variances on opposite sides of it. A stationary front’s weather is typically overcast, with rain or snow falling frequently, especially if the front is in an area of low air pressure.
A stationary front is depicted on a weather map as alternating red semicircles and blue triangles.
A cold front might arrive shortly after a warm front. A warm air mass pushes into a colder air mass (the warm front), which is then pushed into by another cold air mass (the cold front). Cold fronts move faster than warm fronts, hence the cold front is more likely to overrun the warm front. An obscured front is the term for this situation.
The cold air mass from the cold front collides with the cool air ahead of the warm front at an occluded front. As these air masses collide, the heated air rises. Occluded fronts typically arise around low atmospheric pressure zones.
Cumulonimbus or nimbostratus clouds frequently produce precipitation along an occluded front. As the front passes, the wind changes direction and the temperature heats or cools. The sky is usually clearer and the air is dryer when the front passes.
An occluded front appears on a weather map like the one to the right as a purple line with alternating triangles and semicircles pointing in the direction of travel. It comes to a halt at a low pressure area marked by a giant ‘L’ on the map, and resumes at the opposite end when cold and warm fronts meet.
Type of Weather Associated with Cold Fronts
You will hear the weather forecasters talking about the cold fronts entering or leaving a particular area.
During these times, people have to brace themselves for the cold weather that is on its way.
Therefore, it is extremely relevant for you to understand the weather that is normally associated with the cold fronts.
These cold fronts are represented by solid lines on the weather charts or the synoptic charts.
Before the Cold Front
When a cold front has been forecasted for the area where you reside, the weather is going to face several changes.
These changes include the winds moving from South to the southwest. The temperature will also change significantly and drop as the cloud accumulates.
You may also experience periodic showers, easy visibility, and a higher dew point.
During the Cold Front
As soon as the cold fronts start passing from your area, you will experience a temperature drop.
The winds will start building up and shift from one area to another.
Image Source: pixabay.com
Heavy rains can be accompanied by hail, lightning, and thunder. The cumulonimbus clouds can be spotted when a cold front tends to pass from your area.
Hazy visibility will remain and will clear only as the front passes away from your area.
After the Cold Front
As soon as the cold front clears away from your area, the winds will start shifting towards the north-west, while the temperature will remain cold.
It will continue raining because of the presence of the cumulus clouds, which are flat in nature. The air pressure keeps rising constantly.
With time, the showers subside, and the visibility also starts getting clear.
The cold fronts are normally associated with rapid movements of cold air, which in turn is connected to severe and harsh weather.
Thunderstorms are capable of destroying everything on their way. And, most of the times, it has been observed that a cold front can lead to rain, thunderstorm, and hail storms, which lasts for about 2 to 3 days.
More about Cold Fronts
Cold fronts lead to a huge change in the moisture content of an area. The moisture content becomes high in the front, and it becomes slow behind it.
The shifts in the direction of the wind can be identified easily. When the cold front enters your area, the winds start moving in the northern direction.
It has also been observed that the cold fronts can extend from one area to another because of the extended pattern of weather that they follow.
For example, they can start in Canada, and move to locations that are far away, like Oklahoma. This describes one of the most interesting characteristics that is associated with a cold front.
The Wrap Up
Cold fronts can be identified easily by the weather forecasters as they have a huge presence on the radar and they generate massive differences in the weather.
However, cold fronts are considered to be a blessing if the temperatures have been extremely hot in an area.
The rain and thunderstorms that it brings help in relieving the people. On the other hand, cold fronts in areas that are extremely cold can lead to severe temperature drops.
This is why it proves extremely important to prepare yourself if you see on the news or hear on the radio that a cold front is approaching.
Always try to and stay protected from the huge temperature drops and heavy showers