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Weather Education Episode #3 – How Latitude Can Create Misleading Weather Forecasts

March 27, 2012

RedOrbit Meteorologist Joshua Kelly

In the past two chapters we saw how water topography impact the weather. For today’s lesson we are going to look at how latittude also plays an important role in weather forecasting.

Let´s take a look at Seattle, Washington, which happens to be our farthest north example here. Seattle is north so it should be the coldest of all our spots based on its latittude right? No. In this case Seattle´s latitude has little impact on its weather. The majority of the impact on the weather in Seattle comes from our first two lessons, which are the Pacific Ocean and also the Cascade mountain range to the west.

Second takes us to Biloxi, Mississippi, and, as we think of this place being the furthest south in latitude, it should be the warmest place in the summer. Once again, no. Why you may ask? That is because of our first two lessons again in regards to Biloxi being by the warm Gulf of Mexico. Also on that note the Gulf of Mexico is a good indicator of just how warm it will get in Biloxi. So again we are fooled by the latitude.

The third stop takes us to Baltimore, Maryland. Here we see another place that is relatively in the middle of the United States in regards to latitude. However, does that mean Baltimore should be very cold and snowy all the time? No. The point is again that the latitude is misleading for this region as a good portion of the weather patterns in this region depend on the Atlantic Ocean to make them.

Our next stop takes us to Rapid City, South Dakota. They are pretty far north by latitude purposes so they should see a lot of snow in the winter right? Well again we have been fooled, this time by the Black Hills. The Black Hills act like a shadow on the amounts of precipitation that fall on this place making fairly low snowfall amounts unlike if you were to travel 30 miles west into the Black Hills. Also, when we think of winter, we think it should be cold here too. But again that is not the case. It does get cold, but not for prolong periods of time as the Black Hills keep most of the cold Northwesterly winds away from Rapid City.

Last stop on today´s lesson takes us to Denver, Colorado. With their latitude being further south than Rapid City they should have warmer weather right? Well, sometimes in the winter time they have colder weather than the further north places of Seattle and Rapid City why you may ask? This has to do with elevation of the Rockies to why it gets colder here and still is further south.

So to summarize up this lesson, It is important to know that latitude doesn´t mean much when forecasting the weather as it also takes other aspects to look into before creating a weather forecast for these places.


Source: RedOrbit Meteorologist Joshua Kelly

Weather Education Episode 3 8211 How Latitude Can Create


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