Did you ever wonder how the weather can change as quickly as it does? By the time it takes to put a cover on a baseball field because of a rain delay, it’s time to take it off and play ball again. What causes The Constant Changes in Weather?
The simple answer is that Weather can constantly change so quickly and drastically because of Winds, Storms, and the constant movement of accumulations of air called Fronts.
There are other conditions and characteristics of the earth’s atmosphere that can affect Winds and Storms and how they develop and move in continuous motion keeping weather constantly changing.
Why Does Weather Change So Quickly
Weather is the state of the atmosphere at any given time including things like temperature, precipitation, air pressure, and cloud cover. Although daily changes in weather are due to winds and storms, the seasonal changes we live with are due to the earth revolving around the sun.
Because the earth is round and not flat, the sun’s rays don’t fall evenly on the land and oceans. The differences in these temperatures create a restless movement of air and water in great swirling currents that distribute heat energy across the planet.
When the air in one region is warmer than the surrounding air it becomes less dense and begins to rise drawing more air in from underneath it. Elsewhere cooler denser air sinks pushing air outward to flow along the surface and complete the cycle. The constant movement of these accumulations of air is called Fronts.
What are the Types of Weather Fronts
When large masses of warm or cold air move throughout the atmosphere they carry their own differences and characteristics. The boundary between the air masses is part of the front. Usually, hundreds of miles long, when a front passes through a region, it changes the weather. There are four types of Fronts and they are:
- Cold Fronts-When a cold air mass pushes under a warm air mass forcing the warm air to rise.
- Warm Front-This forms when warm moist air slides up and over a cold air mass.
- Stationary Front– This front occurs when warm and cold air meet and neither air mass has the strength to push the other they remain standing still
- Occluded Front-This front occurs when warm air mass gets caught between two cold air masses. The warm air masses rise and the two cold masses meet in the middle.
What are Cold fronts
When Cold fronts come through the weather becomes windy and gusty. There is a sudden drop in temperatures. Thunderstorms and heavy rainfall with hail can develop. These dramatic changes in the weather are fast and violent. They can move twice as fast as a warm front. Atmospheric pressure changes fast from falling to rising. After the Cold front moves through the area, the temperatures become cooler.
The rain will stop and Cumulous Clouds are replaced by Stratus clouds or with clear skies. On a weather map, the cold front is represented by a blue line. Triangle will show the direction the front is moving in. You will always see temperatures in front of the blue line are warmer than the temperatures in the back of the line after the front moves through. The front will cool the area in that down considerably.
What are Warm Fronts
Warm air fronts move slowly because it’s more difficult for the warm air to push against the cold dense air. The types of clouds that are associated with a warm front are located high in the sky. As the warm front passes over the area the clouds become lowered and rain is more likely.
There can be thunderclouds around this front if the air is unstable. On a weather map that you normally see on the evening news, the warm air front is represented by a red line and the red semi-circles indicate the airflow direction. The temperatures on the ground will normally be cooler in front of the red line than warmer after the front moves through.
What are Stationary Fronts
Stationary fronts happen where the masses of warm and cold air won’t move and are kind of standing off with each other but neither one is strong enough to move the other one aside. This front can stay put for days unless the wind direction changes or the system breaks apart. The weather with this type of front is normally cloudy and rain or snow will often fall according to the temperature.
Especially if the front is in a low atmospheric pressure area. On a weather map, a Stationary Front looks like an alternating red line with semi-circles and blue triangles. The blue triangles point in one direction while the red semi-circles point in the opposite direction.
What is Occulted Fronts
Sometimes cold fronts follow right behind warm fronts. The fronts push against each other but because the cold fronts move faster it will normally take over. This occurrence is called Occulated Front. At an occluded front, the cold air normally forms around low atmospheric pressure and there is often precipitation that follows. Winds will change direction as this front moves through the area.
The temperatures can either cool or warm as it passes through the region. On a weather map, an Occulted Front looks like a purple line that contains half triangles and half semi-circles along it pointing in the direction of movement of this front.
Fronts are Made Up of Air Masses
Air is all around us and when you feel the air start to move it could be that the weather is about to change. The way the air moves effects the weather because wind carries heat and cold temperatures as well as moisture to one place or to another. How these winds pass each other affects a region that day. The air is classified by masses there are four main air masses that are according to the geographical part of the earth they are associated with.
- Polar Maritime- An air mass that is typically warm and moist
- Polar Continental Is the air that is cold and dry in the winter.
- Tropical Maritime is the air that is warm and moist
- Tropical Continental is the air that is warm and dry
The movement of these Air Masses makes up the Fronts and their interactions with landmasses affect Weather in those areas.
The fronts of these air masses can carry pressure differences that make wind happen are caused by differing conditions behind the air in each front. When two of these air masses bump into each other it can create a storm or other change in the weather.
How fast it moves and how different they are in temperature at the time they move into each other dictates the severity of the oncoming weather event. If the two systems collide into each other at too quickly a speed it could cause a cyclone.
How Many Types of clouds are there
Clouds come in all matters of size and shape and are located in all parts of the sky. Near the ground or high in the atmosphere, clouds can tell a story or give a warning of what is to come. Most clouds are associated with the weather that’s coming, giving an indication or message from Mother Nature about the forecast ahead.
They are divided into groups mainly based on the height of the clouds above the earth’s surface. Clouds cover about 50% of the earth at any given time and without them, we would not have rain, thunderstorms, rainbows, or snow.
- The highest Clouds above the earth, like Cirrus, Cirrocumulus, and Cirrostratus are not associated with weather.
- Middle Clouds like Altocumulus clouds are grayish-white with one part of the cloud darker than the other. If you see these clouds expect thunderstorms later that day.
- Low Clouds like Stratocumulus clouds consist of water droplets on the base. they are low lumpy and grey. Sometimes they line up in rows and they indicate light precipitation is coming.
- Clouds with enormous vertical growth include Cumulus clouds and indicate severe weather on the horizon.
Topography also can influence air movement and because of this has a direct bearing on the weather. Mountain ranges can have an effect on the type of weather that happens in the region where you live.
I live in the what’s called the Delaware Valley where we are protected by mountains on one side from the West of Pennsylvania and the mountain ranges of New York state.
The ocean is to the East, towards New Jersey. We are exposed to hurricanes from the East coast because there is nothing in the way to stop them. If you are exposed to dangerous weather patterns, you need to know what to do. I wrote an article for MyWaterEarth&Sky called The First Steps to Take After a Major Flood Damages Your Home. This article takes you through what I and my family went through in Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Check it out it gives you detailed experience that we learned.
In the Western regions, beyond Pennsylvania and Ohio, there are thousands of square miles of flat land with no obstructions to block wind or weather. This where serious Tornadoes occur.
Coastal winds moving across land also carry humidity which is another factor for the weather. Most weather happens in the Troposphere which is the lowest level in the atmosphere. Weather is described by meteorologists as Air, Pressure measured by a barometer. The strength, wind direction, and the types of clouds move through the Troposphere causing weather changes.
Kids should know how the weather can affect us here on earth. Some good learning tools are the instruments that scientists use as indicators of weather change. You can buy these as teaching aids for students. You can purchase these instruments right online at Amazon carries Weather Stations Barometers and other cool scientific instruments that predict weather patterns before anybody else can. Check them out.
The National Weather Sevice changes their information daily because the air in our atmosphere is constantly moving. Unlike the weather, climate changes with seasons in the long drawn out process as the earth’s position in the solar system changes.
The weather patterns around the world are the natural events that make our planet the special place that it is. The worries over unnatural or man-made Climate changes brought on by Global Warming are a whole other subject that always needs to be discussed and our attention brought to it.
One thing is certain that the earth is a delicate process and that process may or may not be altered but a change in the weather is guaranteed.
What causes extreme weather? Because heat waves are not visible as other forms of severe weather are like hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms, they are one of the less known forms of extreme weather. Severe heat weather can damage populations and crops due to potential dehydration.
What are the 4 types of severe weather?
Tornado-Hurricane or Cyclone
Blizzard- heavy snow, ice, cold temperatures- Ice Storms Freezing Rain
Dust storm: strong winds
Flood: heavy rainfall.