When a front passes end an area, it way a adjust in the weather. Many fronts reason weather events such together rain, thunderstorms, gusty winds, and also tornadoes. At a cold front, there may be dramatic thunderstorms. At a heat front, there might be low stratus clouds. Usually, the skies clear as soon as the front has actually passed.

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What is a Weather Front?

A weather former is a change zone between two various air masses in ~ the Earth"s surface. Each air fixed has unique temperature and humidity characteristics. Often there is disturbance at a front, which is the borderline where two different air masses come together. The disturbance can cause clouds and storms.

Instead of leading to clouds and storms, part fronts just cause a adjust in temperature. However, part storm fronts start Earth"s biggest storms. Tropical waves room fronts that build in the tropic Atlantic ocean off the shore of Africa. These fronts can construct into dry storms or hurricanes if problems allow.

Fronts move across the Earth"s surface over lot of days. The direction of motion is frequently guided through high winds, such as Jet Streams. Landforms favor mountains have the right to also change the route of a front.

There are 4 different types of weather fronts: cold fronts, heat fronts, stationary fronts, and also occluded fronts.

Cold Front


A side check out of a cold former (A, top) and also how that is stood for on a weather map (B, bottom).

Credit:Lisa Gardiner

A cold front develops when a cold waiting mass pushes into a warmer waiting mass. Cold fronts can produce dramatic transforms in the weather. They relocate fast, as much as twice as fast as a warmth front. Together a cold front moves into an area, the heavier (more dense) cool air pushes under the lighter (less dense) heat air, bring about it to climb up into the troposphere. Lifted warm air ahead of the front produces cumulus or cumulonimbus clouds and thunderstorms, prefer in the image on the left (A).

As the cold front passes, winds come to be gusty. There is a sudden drop in temperature, and likewise heavy rain, sometimes with hail, thunder, and also lightning. Atmospheric pressure transforms from falling to rising at the front. ~ a cold front moves v your area, friend may an alert that the temperature is cooler, the rain has stopped, and the cumulus clouds are changed by stratus and also stratocumulus clouds or clear skies.

On weather maps, a cold prior is stood for by a heavy blue line through filled-in triangles follow me it, like in the map ~ above the left. The triangle are like arrowheads pointing in the direction the the front is moving. An alert on the map that temperatures in ~ the ground level readjust from warmth to cold as you overcome the former line.

Warm Front


A side watch of a warmth front (A, top) and how that is represented on a weather map (B, bottom).

Credit: Lisa Gardiner

A heat front develops when a warmth air massive pushes into a cooler waiting mass, displayed in the photo to the right (A). Warm fronts often carry stormy weather as the warm air mass at the surface rises above the cool air mass, making clouds and storms. Warmth fronts move much more slowly 보다 cold fronts because it is more daunting for the warmth air to press the cold, dense air across the Earth"s surface. Warm fronts often kind on the eastern side the low-pressure equipment where warmer air from the south is driven north.

You will frequently see high clouds favor cirrus, cirrostratus, and middle clouds favor altostratus ahead of a heat front. This clouds type in the warmth air the is high above the cool air. Together the front passes end an area, the clouds end up being lower, and rain is likely. There deserve to be thunderstorms around the heat front if the wait is unstable.

On weather maps, the surface ar of a heat front is represented by a hard red line v red, filled-in semicircles along it, prefer in the map ~ above the ideal (B). The semicircles suggest the direction that the front is moving. They space on the side of the line wherein the prior is moving. An alert on the map that temperatures at ground level room cooler in prior of the front than behind it.

Stationary Front


A stationary former is represented on a map by triangle pointing in one direction and semicircles sharp in the other direction.

Credit:Lisa Gardiner

A stationary front forms when a cold former or warm front stop moving. This happens once two masses the air room pushing versus each other, yet neither is an effective enough to move the other. Winds blow parallel to the front instead of perpendicular can help it continue to be in place.

A stationary front may stay placed for days. If the wind direction changes, the front will certainly start moving again, coming to be either a cold or warm front. Or the front may break apart.

Because a stationary prior marks the boundary between two wait masses, there room often differences in waiting temperature and also wind ~ above opposite sides of it. The weather is regularly cloudy follow me a stationary front, and also rain or snow often falls, especially if the former is in an area of short atmospheric pressure.

On a weather map, a stationary former is displayed as alternative red semicircles and also blue triangles prefer in the photo at the left. Notice how the blue triangles suggest in one direction, and also the red semicircles allude in opposing direction.

Occluded Front


An occluded front is represented on a weather map by a purple line with alternating triangles and also semicircles.

Credit:Lisa Gardiner

Sometimes a cold front complies with right behind a warm front. A heat air fixed pushes into a colder air fixed (the heat front), and also then another cold waiting mass pushes right into the warmth air mass (the cold front). Because cold fronts move faster, the cold front is most likely to overtake the heat front. This is recognized as one occluded front.

At an occluded front, the cold air mass from the cold prior meets the cool air that was ahead of the warm front. The warmth air rises as these air masses come together. Occluded fronts usually form around areas of short atmospheric pressure.

There is regularly precipitation follow me an occluded front native cumulonimbus or nimbostratus clouds. Wind transforms direction as the prior passes and the temperature one of two people warms or cools. ~ the front passes, the skies is normally clearer, and also the waiting is drier.

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On a weather map, displayed to the left, one occluded front looks favor a purple line with alternative triangles and semicircles pointing in the direction that the prior is moving. It ends at a low press area presented with a large ‘L’ on the map, begins at the other end when cold and warm fronts connect.