It happens every winter. Drivers are caught off guard by icy roads and a sudden wind gust, the arrival of cold air, and a burst of snow so heavy you can't see the car in front of you. It's called a snow squall and is more common than people think.
An outflow boundary is a meteorological term that refers to the boundary between two air masses created by a thunderstorm's downdraft. If you've ever stood outside during a thunderstorm and felt the cool rush of air preceding a storm, you've experienced an outflow boundary.
Our atmosphere is constantly in motion. Weather systems are transported around the globe by this motion, with a narrow band of stronger winds called the ‘jet stream‘ providing much of this motion, which lies between cold and warm air masses.
When most people think about the weather, they're thinking about conditions in the short term—the current temperature, what it's like outside, and whether or not it looks like it's going to rain. On the other hand, climate refers to average weather conditions in a particular area over time.
Winter 2020-21 didn’t turn out as many thought. Most long-range forecasters thought La Niña would lead to a mild and uneventful winter. My weather station read 62 on Christmas Day in Pennsylvania! Well, the polar vortex had other plans.
Nor'easters are intense periods of snow and high wind that can last for days. While the term is most commonly associated with coastal storms that pass by the Northeastern US' major cities, the term is used elsewhere, such as in Europe.
When most people think of thunderstorms, they imagine a large, dark storm cloud that pops up in the afternoon and evening, bringing strong winds and heavy rain. This type of storm is called an air mass thunderstorm. However, two other types of thunderstorms often precede frontal passages in the summer.
A squall line is a line of strong and severe thunderstorms common in the spring and summer and often produce strong winds, lightning, heavy rain, and hail. Squall lines often form ahead of cold fronts but can develop independently if several strong thunderstorms merge.
We've all been through it if you live in an area that falls below freezing in winter. It's freezing out yet raining. Within minutes, everything becomes an ice rink. Drivers lose control of their cars, everything grinds to a halt. It's not fun.
The jet stream is a narrow band of strong winds in the upper levels of Earth’s atmosphere, and it blows from west to east and provides a corridor for storms to follow as they circumnavigate the globe. Jet streams form along the boundaries of warm and cold air, and the wiggles of the jet stream play a large part in the weather you experience.