Ask Storm Team 11: Why does the temperature drop right before sunrise?

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ASK STORM TEAM 11

Today’s ask storm Team 11 question is this: Why does the temperature always drop one or two degrees right at sunrise? The process is called radiational cooling, which essentially is the loss of heat that occurs near the surface. This is maximized overnight with a clear sky, light winds, and dry air, with heat loss continuing up until sunrise. After sunrise, the sunshine reverses the process, heating up the air near the surface. Not all weather conditions are conducive for radiational cooling, such as a cloudy sky which traps the heat near the ground. Windy conditions at night keep the air stirred up, also preventing significant cooling at night. Fall, winter and spring seasons are the times of the year when conditions are most favorable for significant radiational cooling.

 

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