Ask Storm Team 11: What is a cold front?


Fall is the season we see the return of cold fronts. But what exactly is a cold front? 

Attached to a low pressure system is a warm and cold front, they separate different kinds of air masses. The fronts move in the direction their shapes face on a weather map. Cold fronts typically move from the northwest to the southeast.

If you are on the east side of the cold front, it is a very warm and moist air mass because of southerly winds. While behind the cold front is dry and cooler air thanks to northerly winds. 

The cold air mass moves towards the warm air as the cold front pushes forward, but the air masses do not mix.  Recall, warm air rises and cold air sinks thanks to their densities. Therefore, warm air is forced upwards by the incoming cold front. 

As warm air rises, it expands, condenses, and creates rain! This is why we typically see showers or even a strong line of storms along cold front before dry and cooler air moves in after.

Ask Storm Team 11 your questions!

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