An Empirical Perspective on Cold Fronts

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  • 1 Department of Geography, and School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

Oklahoma Mesonetwork data are used to illustrate important atmospheric features that are not well shown by the usual synoptic data. For example, some shifts of wind from south to north that are shown as cold fronts on synoptic charts are not cold fronts by any plausible definition. As previously discussed by Fred Sanders and others, such errors in analysis can be reduced by knowledge of the wide variety of weather phenomena that actually exists, and by more attention to temperatures at the earth's surface as revealed by conventional synoptic data. Mesoscale data for four cases reinforce previous discussions of the ephemeral nature of fronts and deficiencies in the usual analyses of cold fronts. One type of misanalyzed case involves post-cold-frontal boundary layer air that is warmer than the prefrontal air. A second type is usually nocturnal, with a rise of local temperature during disruption of an inversion and a wind shift with later cooling that accompanies advection of a climatological gradient of temperature.

Corresponding author address: Edwin Kessler, 1510 Rosemont Dr., Norman, OK 73072-6337. E-mail: kess3@swbell.net

Abstract

Oklahoma Mesonetwork data are used to illustrate important atmospheric features that are not well shown by the usual synoptic data. For example, some shifts of wind from south to north that are shown as cold fronts on synoptic charts are not cold fronts by any plausible definition. As previously discussed by Fred Sanders and others, such errors in analysis can be reduced by knowledge of the wide variety of weather phenomena that actually exists, and by more attention to temperatures at the earth's surface as revealed by conventional synoptic data. Mesoscale data for four cases reinforce previous discussions of the ephemeral nature of fronts and deficiencies in the usual analyses of cold fronts. One type of misanalyzed case involves post-cold-frontal boundary layer air that is warmer than the prefrontal air. A second type is usually nocturnal, with a rise of local temperature during disruption of an inversion and a wind shift with later cooling that accompanies advection of a climatological gradient of temperature.

Corresponding author address: Edwin Kessler, 1510 Rosemont Dr., Norman, OK 73072-6337. E-mail: kess3@swbell.net
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