Ask Storm Team 11: What causes turbulence?


Today’s Ask Storm Team 11 question is “What causes turbulence?”

Turbulence is caused by the irregular motion of air in vertical motions. This creates the rapid up and down movements of air and the plane. This is why it feels like you are hitting some bumps in the road, while thousands of feet up in the air. 

There are a few things that can cause the irregular motion of air. 

Convective currents occur when the sun heats the ground, in the spring and summer especially. As the warm air rises, it creates convective currents above. This makes for a bumpy flight while you are below a cloud deck, but smooth sailing above.

Mountains waves can also cause turbulence. As you are flying over mountains, air is rising over the mountains and back down. This wave pattern of the air can continue on the lee side of a mountain, causing rapid up and down movements of a plane.

Thunderstorms are also a reason turbulence occurs. As updrafts carry air into a thunderstorms and up, there is no smooth sailing for any planes above thunderstorms.

Ask Storm Team 11 your questions!

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