Midlatitude Cyclones
bringing weather change

Graphic by: Ed Mlodzik

Midlatitude cyclones are the cause of most of the stormy weather in the United States, espeically during the winter season. Understanding the structure and evolution of midlatitude cyclones is crucial for predicting significant weather phenomena such as blizzards, flooding rains, and severe weather.

A midlatitude cyclone is an area of low pressure located between 30 degrees and 60 degrees latitude. Since the continental United States is located in this latitude belt, these cyclones impact the weather in the U.S.

This instructional module introduces the most important features of midlatitude cyclones. The module is divided into the following sections:

Last Update: 08/22/97
Definition of a Cyclone
The general structure of a cyclone and associated air masses and fronts is discussed.

Winds Associated With a Cyclone
A cyclone can be located simply using the wind barbs.

Air Masses and Cyclones
The movement of air masses associated with cyclone is discussed.

Cyclones on Satellite Images
A midlatitude cyclone looks very distinct on a satellite image.

Upper Air Features
Cyclones develop as a result of upper air features discussed in this section, included troughs, wave amplification, and jet streaks.

Those who contributed to the development of this module.

Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.