Weather 101: What is cold air damming?

Digital Desk

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Top Stories - Nov. 12th, 2019

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Cold air damming is a phenomenon that can occur any time of year, but makes a big difference in our region during the transitional and cold seasons.

The pattern that favors cold air damming happens relatively frequently. There are some factors that play into the strength of the cold pool that forms, but the focus for this article is the pattern that brings in the cold air.

A departing high pressure system leads to cold air getting funneled onto the lee side of the mountains. This is the eastern side of our range.

Northeast wind keeps the cold air backed up against the mountain and it gets pushed south.

Due to cold air damming, big differences in temperature can be apparent when our pattern is set up correctly.

There are times where a 20 degree difference is possible between Lewisburg and Beckley, where Beckley is the warmer city.

Cold air damming can be defined by certain characteristics such as gloomy conditions and precipitation. With the cold air locked in place, warm air will rise up on top of it. This forces showers and clouds in the affected area.

Depending on the time of year, this can lead to snow and ice where the cold air is trapped.

While we can sometimes keep the wedge of cold air around for a couple of days, we tend to see warmer air scour out the cold rather quickly if the pattern remains active.


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