Breakdown: Why cold fronts cause rain to occur

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Sep. 30, 2018 at 8:29 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - In this breakdown, I am going to not just be talking about what they are but also how they can influence our weather and sometimes, it can be in a severe way. Cold fronts can cause dramatic temperature changes and can create severe weather.

A cold front is an area of cold or cooler air that moves towards warm air. When a cold front moves into an area, it will change temperatures and usually the current weather based on the strength of the cold front. Cold air is more dense or weighs more than that of warm air. The molecules in cold air are packed more tightly together making it more dense.

In advance of a cold front, there are usually signs that can be seen before it arrives. The barometer may fall because a cold front is low pressure. Sometimes you can even see a line of clouds along and ahead of a front, like the ones below.

Cold fronts can also be referred to as Blue Norther, Alberta Clipper, Alaska Blaster, Siberian Express and Saskatchewan Screamer. Check out some of the extremes, on November 11, 1911, one of the most extreme cold front since records have been kept was across parts of the Great Plains and Midwest. Kansas City, Missouri fell from 76° to 11° in just 12 hours, while Oklahoma City fell from 83° to 17° and in Springfield, Missouri from 80° to 13° officially all thanks to a potent cold front.

Cold fronts move the fastest in comparison to the other types of fronts. There are several severe weather events that occur due to cold fronts. The reason being is because winds will move towards each other along the front. The angle of a cold front is also greater than that of the other types of fronts, which creates more lift in the atmosphere vertically.

The bigger the difference of the air mass that it is moving into, higher dew points, temperatures, and upper level winds, the greater the threat for severe weather due to the differences between the air masses as they collide. On the flip side, if there is not a lot of moisture on either side there may not be any rain. A cold front doesn’t always spell rain or severe weather, it will of course depend upon what conditions are like on either side.

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