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Weather Fronts

Weather Fronts

Introduction: You are outside on a hot summer day when the sky begins to darken from an approaching cloud bank. Soon, the wind gusts and temperature drops. You run inside when you hear a rumble of thunder. Within a few minutes, rain pours from the clouds and lightning lights up the sky.

Changes in weather can happen gradually or rapidly. A large volume of air, called an air mass, usually has fairly uniform temperature, density, pressure, and moisture conditions. When two different types of air masses meet, the differences in these properties can cause unstable weather conditions. The zone where air masses meet is a weather front.

There are four types of weather fronts. A warm front forms when a warm air mass overtakes a cold air mass. A cold front forms when a cold air mass overtakes a warm air mass. If two air masses meet, then remain in place, a stationary front forms. Occluded fronts can form with storm systems when fast moving cold fronts lift warmer air from the ground.


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