Ask Storm Team 11: What does the air do when high and low pressure build into the area?

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Today’s Ask Storm Team 11 question: What does the air do when high and low pressure build in?  THanks to Wayne Colvard for the question.

Great question!  High pressure is usually associated with fair weather.  The winds flow clockwise around an area of high pressure; therefore, if you are on the front side of the high pressure system as it drops in from Canada, you would experience clear skies and cold or cooler air.  If you were on the back side of the ridge of high pressure, the wind flow would be from the southwest which would bring warmer air into your area.

Sinking air is associated with high pressure.  We call that subsidence.  Fair skies are associated with high pressure.  During the summer you may hear the term a “dome of high pressure”.  That simply means that a strong area of high pressure has set up in a location which can bring fair skies, dry conditons and very warm temperatures.  We can also see what is termed as a blocking high which prevents weather systems from moving across parts of the country and the globe from time to time.

Low pressure is a whole different stroy.  The wind flow around an area of low presusr is counter-clockwise.  The air is lifted or rises with low pressure which in turn condenses and forms clouds that produce precipitation.  Low pressure is also how hurricanes form.  It is interesting that an area of high pressure will feed a low pressure which can actually make the area of low pressure stronger.  Low pressure is associated with blizzards, and heavy snowfall as well.  The front side of an area of low pressure will be the warm side with the threat for severe weather during certain times of the year while the back side allows cooler air to flow in behind the system.

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