Ask Storm Team 11: Radiational Cooling


Tuesday’s Ask Storm Team 11 question: “What is radiational cooling?”

The sun heats the air during the day giving us mild temperatures.

In turn, whatever warmth we get, escapes back into space after the sun goes down when skies are clear and winds are calm. Temperatures drop very quickly after the sun goes down when that happens.

We had an example of radiational cooling last weekend: Saturday into Sunday.

The high Saturday was 52 degrees. At 8 pm, it was 36 degrees. By 11 pm, it was 28 degrees. The low Sunday morning was 22 degrees thanks to clear skies and no wind to mix up the air.

There are other factors that help enhance radiational cooling. That includes the long nights and shorter days in the winter.

Dry air also cools efficiently.

When you have snow on the ground, it acts as a good insulator cooling the air right above it.

Colder air is denser than warmer air so it can sink to the valleys cooling them off more than the surrounding areas in these cases.

Have a question for Storm Team 11? Click here to submit!

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