Weather Front Map Symbols

Weather front map symbols are used to indicate the nature, and geographical position of the edges of main air masses.

You might remember that the troposphere is made up of air masses having distinct characteristics.

Note: For a wonderful insight into the dynamic movements of the earth's atmosphere, I recommend

Meteorology: An Introduction to the Wonders of the Weather!

It is useful to track the movement of fronts, with the help of front symbols on a weather map, because significant weather generally occurs along the edges of air masses as they move over the earth's surface.

Animated frontal displacement on surface weather map.

Surface weather map analysis are issued every six hours by Environment Canada, as well as by most other G8 countries of the world. You can obtain the latest map here.

The most common front symbols you will see depicted on a surface weather map, are:

Symbol of an advancing cold frontal zone, at the earth's surface. The cold front is the leading edge of an advancing cold air mass. Cold front symbol.
Symbol of a retreating warm frontal zone, at the earth's surface. The warm front is the retreating edge of a cold air mass, letting warmer air invade the abandoned terrain. Warm front symbol.

By following the new position of fronts, every six hours, you can estimate the direction and speed of movement of the fronts.

Thus, it becomes possible for you to estimate the arrival - at your observing site - of the weather associated with a front moving toward you. This form of anticipating impending weather is sometimes called "now-casting"!

Weather front map symbols let you recognize, at a glance, the type of fronts that are, or will be, moving over your region.

Stay tuned, and keep a sharp weather watch!


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