Breakdown: Why stationary fronts can complicate a forecast

Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 10:03 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Will it rain or won’t it rain? Will it be hot or cold? Where is the sun, why is it cloudy? A meteorologist we hear it all the time, some locations see one thing while others see the opposite. In this episode of the Breakdown, we explain how stationary fronts can complicate a forecast.

Stationary fronts. You know it’s that type of front on a weather map when you see a cold front and warm front linked together. What makes a stationary front so difficult to predict the weather for an area?

It all has to do with its name, stationary. This type of front is when a typical cold front or warm front stops moving. Usually happening when two air masses are pushing against each other but neither is strong enough to move the other out of the way.

This front may end up staying put for several days giving an area that is caught in the middle of it different weather patterns. This means on one side of the front it will be warm while the other will be cooler. One side may see more sun the other clouds, while one side could see more rain while the other drier.

Along the front itself, weather is often cloudy with rain or snow possible, especially if there is a low pressure along the front itself. Yet that low pressure will add more to the complicated forecast that a stationary front brings predictions of what is to come.

A lot of times, forecast models have a hard time predicting the amount of rain, snow, sun, clouds or even temperatures people can expect when one is stalled over an area.

Eventually the front will exit the area it is over. This is done as a shift in winds will occur, causing the station front to exit as either a warm or cold front, or the front itself could just dissipate over the region.

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