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Weather Wise: Air Masses and Fronts

Lift the curtain on air masses, fronts, regional weather, and high- and low-pressure systems to come to the right decision about flying in weather.

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Rules to Live ByRules to Live By

Safety SPOTLIGHT: Air Masses and Fronts

Severe thunderstorms build up over the Kansas plains.

Keep These Points in Mind:

  • An air mass is a body of air with similar temperature and moisture characteristics throughout.
  • A front is the boundary between two different air masses.
  • High pressure systems tend to produce hazy conditions and few or no storms.
  • Low pressure systems tend to produce stormy weather.
  • The weather that occurs at the front is dependent on the temperature, moisture, and stability in the area.
  • Temperature and pressure differences can be significant on either side of a front.
  • Hazardous weather associated with fronts can include thunderstorms, icing, low ceilings/visibilities, and wind/turbulence.
  • Forecasts are educated guesses, not guarantees.
  • Compare the forecast to actual conditions and pay attention to trends.
  • ATC, flight service, and onboard datalink technology are excellent in-flight weather resources to help assess if and how conditions are changing. Use them strategically, not tactically.

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