Weather Patterns: Definition, Development & Movement

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  • 0:03 What Is a Weather Pattern?
  • 0:53 Components of Weather Patterns
  • 2:10 How Weather Patterns Develop
  • 3:45 Movement of Weather Patterns
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, you'll be learning about weather patterns. We'll cover the five main components of weather and look at how specific patterns develop, as well as the forces driving weather movement across the world.

What Is a Weather Pattern?

Have you ever noticed how there will be beautiful, sunny weather for days on end, but then one day you wake up and it's gray and raining? The rain doesn't always stop within the day either, and sometimes the gloomy days go on just as the sunny days did. When the weather maintains consistency for a period of time it's called a weather pattern. Changes in weather are important to human life, as it governs our daily activities and brings moisture to nourish agriculture and be consumed. For example, do you need to protect your house from heavy rains or your lawn from dry temperatures that can cause brush fires? More serious weather, like tornados and hurricanes, can cause severe damage to people and properties. Today, we'll be learning about the different aspects of weather patterns, how they develop, and their movement across the country.

Components of Weather Patterns

There are five main components to weather:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Air pressure
  • Wind
  • Precipitation

Temperature is how warm or cool the air is in the atmosphere, while humidity measures how much moisture is present in the atmosphere. Humidity also influences the perceived temperature, and anyone who's been stuck outside on a humid day can attest to how hot it feels compared to a day at the same temperature with low humidity. The high moisture content in the air prevents the sweat from evaporating off of our skin, which would normally keep us cool.

Air pressure is the amount of air molecules packed into an area. Changes in atmospheric pressure create weather patterns, which we'll discuss later on. High pressure areas bring calm, cool, sunny weather whereas low pressure areas bring warm weather, rain, and clouds.

Wind is the movement of air through the atmosphere, and it helps to move air from high pressure areas to low pressure areas. Changes in air pressure also bring about clouds, collections of dust, and water vapor in the atmosphere. Precipitation is any form of water falling from the clouds; the most common forms that you may be familiar with are snow and rain. These processes bring changes in temperature and greatly influence human activity.

How Weather Patterns Develop

Now that we know some basics, let's look at how weather patterns develop. Weather patterns start with air masses, which are large bodies of air with uniform temperatures and air pressure. Air masses are categorized based on the temperature (polar or tropical) and their origin (land or marine). The origins of the air masses influence the humidity of the air.

Cold Front Movement

When two air masses collide, the fronts, or leading edges, create weather patterns like clouds, precipitation, and even tornados. High pressure systems usually bring cooler temperatures, called a cold front. High pressure air is dense because the temperature is lower, pushing the air molecules together and making it sink.

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