A side view of a cold front (A) and how it is represented on a weather map (B)
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe image by Lisa Gardiner
A cold front is where cold air is pushing into a warmer air. A cold front can cause a big change in the weather. Cold fronts are able to move up to twice as fast as a warm front.
If a cold front passes over where you live, you can notice wind, cooler air, and heavy rain from cumulonimbus clouds. Sometimes there is hail, thunder, and lightning too. Atmospheric pressure changes from falling to rising at the front. After a cold front moves through your area you may notice that the cumulus clouds are replaced by stratus and stratocumulus clouds or clear skies.
On weather maps, a cold front is shown by a solid blue line with filled-in triangles along it, like in the map on the left (B). The triangles are like arrowheads pointing in the direction that the front is moving. Notice on the map that temperatures are warmer in front of the front than behind it.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
Wind is moving air. Warm air rises, and cool air comes in to take its place. This movement creates the winds around the globe. Winds move at different speeds and have different names based on their speed....more
Cumulonimbus clouds belong to the Clouds with Vertical Growth group. They are also known as thunderstorm clouds. A cumulonimbus cloud can grow up to 10km high. At this height, high winds make the top...more
Thunderstorms are one of the most exciting and dangerous types of weather. Over 40,000 thunderstorms happen around the world each day. Thunderstorms form when very warm, moist air rises into cold air....more
Lightning is the coolest thing about a thunderstorm. In fact, it is how thunderstorms got their name. Wait a minute, what does thunder have to do with lightning? Well, lightning causes thunder. Lightning...more
Cumulus clouds belong to the Clouds with Vertical Growth group. They are puffy white or light gray clouds that look like floating cotton balls. Cumulus clouds have sharp outlines and a flat base. Seeing...more
Stratus clouds are part of the Low Cloud group. They are gray and can cover most or all of the sky (like a big blanket). Stratus clouds sometimes produce light mist or drizzle. ...more
Stratocumulus clouds belong to the Low Cloud group. These clouds are low, lumpy, and gray. These clouds can look like cells under a microscope - sometimes they line up in rows and other times they spread...more