Weather or Not: What are fronts?

Updated: Jul. 23, 2018 at 2:21 PM CDT
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ARKLATEX (KSLA) - Fronts, a common word you hear meteorologists use when predicting the weather for the next few days. You may have a general understanding of them, but how exactly do they form?

Fronts form between different air masses. Air masses are bodies of air with the same temperatures, density, and humidity. These air masses cannot combine into one, so they need these transition zones called fronts.

A textbook example of a frontal system is when a warm, most air mass from the south moves towards cooler air to the north. In between these two air masses create a warm front.

A cold front forms when a very cold air mass, most likely from the west, moves toward and take over the warm air mass. Along the cold front, is where showers and storms can form.

Different types of fronts:

Cold Front:

This is when a cold air masses pushes under a warm air. As the cold air takes over the warm mass of it causes the warm air to rise…which will then cool and condense and can cause thunderstorms to form. After a cold front moves through, cooler and fair weather is expected.

Warm Front:

This is when a warm, moist air mass slides up and over a cold air mass. As the warm air rises and condenses it can create a broad area of clouds. This can bring light showers to the area followed by warmer air after the front moves through.

Stationary Front:

This happens when warm and cold air meet and neither of them have the force or the energy to overtake the other one. This means that the front will in turn stand still. Clouds and fog can form along a stationary front and can cause lingering rain and clouds for multiple days.

Occluded Front:

This is when a warm air mass gets caught in between two cold air masses. The warm air rises as the cold air masses push and meet in the middle. As a front occludes, it can bring heavy rainfall and strong winds. This step is when the front starts to dissipate.

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