A passing depression
Please note diagrams in the course are schematic and not to scale.
Figure 1: The weather associated with a warm front © Crown Copyright, adapted from image supplied by Met Office.
Figure 2: Cirrus clouds.© RMetS
Figure 3: Nimbostratus. © RMetS
Figure 4: The weather associated with a cold front © Crown Copyright, adapted from image supplied by Met Office.
Figure A: Sun setting in the west © University of Reading
Figure B: Sun rising in the east © University of Reading
The occluded front
Figure 5: Four stages in the lifecycle of a depression
Figure 6: A cross section through a depression at stage 3 © Dr Peter InnessYou can see the cold front has caught up with the warm front and has been pushed up the warm front. On the ground, the cold air from ahead of the system is directly in contact with the cold air behind. If you imagine you’re standing on the ground again you won’t notice much of a temperature change as the occluded front passes. However, the remaining warm air, squeezed higher up in the atmosphere, is still rising, so you’re going to still need your umbrella as there will still be cloud and rain.There are several physical reasons why the cold front catches up with the warm front. Conceptually, remembering that all the air is moving from west to east, it’s easy to imagine how it is relatively easy for the more dense, heavier cold air to push the less dense, lighter air out of the way on the cold front. Conversely, it’s much harder for the less dense, lighter warm air to push the more dense, heavier air out of the way on the warm front. The net result of the processes in action is that the cold front moves faster than the warm front and the warm air in between the fronts is squeezed up and away from the surface.
Come Rain or Shine: Understanding the Weather
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