(WIVB)–What is the difference between a warm front and a cold front? What type of weather is associated with these frontal boundaries? We are going to go over the basics in this week’s episode of Science with Stevie!
We have different air masses: cold air and warm air. Colder air is near the poles, whereas, warmer and tropical air resides near the equator. Usually, the jet stream will keep these air masses in their locations. If you want to learn more about air masses, you can find that episode on WIVB.com under the “Science with Stevie” tab.
But, the fascinating thing about the weather is that it is constantly changing! Sometimes the warm air will lift north, and the cold air will shift southward. This makes the atmosphere unstable. When you have the warm air and cold air relatively close together, that is where fronts can form.
These fronts try to balance out the atmosphere. When the cold and warm air begin to interact, a cold front develops, and a warm front forms around an area of low pressure. We have cooler air behind the cold front because winds come out of the north and warmer air behind a warm front because there is more of a southerly wind flow.
So, if a cold dry air mass pushes into a warmer air mass, we have a cold front. Cold air is very dense and heavy, as it starts to move forward, it forms a steep wedge, which will force the warm air to rise very quickly. That is what causes clouds to form at the edge of the front and we can get rainy and sometimes stormy weather.
A warm front is when a warmer air mass, pushes into a colder air mass. The warm air will begin to take over the cooler air and will rise slower and gradually because the slope is not as steep. Widespread clouds and precipitation can form along the front and eventually mid-level clouds, like cirrus clouds, form way ahead of the front. So now you know the difference between those two frontal boundaries along with how they impact our weather.