In lieu of the recent and sudden cold weather, I became fascinated as to why and how exactly these cold and therefore warm ‘fronts’ occur and their effect. For a short explanation, the phrase cold front is very peculiar as it almost sounds militaristic despite describing weather patterns. The term originates from the Norwegian School of Meteorology during World War 1 when they described the meeting of the air temperatures as almost a battle for supremacy. Therefore, when the colder, denser air or the hotter, less dense air is pushing forward, it is referred to as a ‘front’, a siege almost. One can easily see where the 1910s meteorologists were reasoning from given how it certainly does appear like a battlefield of air temperatures.

Despite its history and entomology being slightly confusing, the science behind cold fronts is relatively simple. Simply put, when the two different air masses meet, the hot and cold, the cold air will sink under the warm air, as it is denser, and force the warm air to rise.

 Obviously, there is also a related correlation between temperature and precipitation alike. To explain this, when the cold air forces itself under the warmer air, some of the moisture that is evaporated into the warmer air will become trapped and when put into the colder air, could cluster together and fall in the form of rain or could freeze becoming hail or snow. Quite simply, that is the link between temperature and general weather. On the other side of fronts, there’s the warm fronts. These occur through a similar process ,but reversed in a way, where the cold air moves away, and the warm air above sinks into the gap.

While those are the two main types of fronts, it is not just that simple. There are also sub-types present yet these are generally quite self-explanatory and an easy concept to grasp. These ‘sub-types’ are really just the way the front feels depending on where it’s come from. For example, an arctic cold front is typically associated with the bitter cold weather we often experience during the worst of the winter. Meanwhile, a polar front or a high latitude oceanic front may bring more mild weather.