RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — When we think of “cold fronts” we automatically think of winter, cold frigid temperatures, and sometimes some rain. So when you hear your favorite Meteorologist saying there is a “cold front” arriving soon but temperatures are only dropping by two or three degrees your first thought might be, “that’s not a real cold front! This person is lying! That’s more like a cool front!”
Don’t worry, meteorologists thought the same thing too, however, the term “cool front” doesn’t actually exist.
While temperatures may “cool” down behind a cold front, or sometimes just shift the wind, the front is still classified as a cold front. There is a cool air mass behind the front, but it’s still a cold front. With the Autumnal Equinox on Sept. 22 or the first day of fall, we are about to see a lot more of them.
Think of it like this: you go out to catch a fish, and you catch a small one. That fish is inedible and you can’t do anything with it, but it’s still a fish. A small, weak one, but a fish nonetheless. It’s classified as a fish no matter its size and strength. It’s the same thing with a cold front.
In fact, all the blue squiggly line on our maps does is show a cold air mass replacing a warm air mass. It’s the transition area as the winds shift since the cold air mass is the dominant mass now.
Hence, it’s still a “cold front” no matter how you slice it, even if it’s weak or short-lived. Some are stronger than others. Fonts continue to happen all year long, some just never make it all the way through the country.
One last piece of meteorological knowledge, there are three other types of fronts: warm front (warm air mass replaces cold air mass,) stationary front (the front has stalled or barely moves,) and occluded front (when a cold front overtakes a warm front.)
The next time you hear “we have a cool front coming” be sure to stop and drop some meteorological knowledge. The ValleyStorm Team would thank you for it.