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Fast Facts for the Wind Team
- Jet streams are narrow corridors of very strong winds at altitudes from 30,000 to 50,000 ft. They blow in a wavy pattern from west to east across North America at speeds exceeding 60 knots.
- The jet stream steers surface lows (associated with troughs) and surface highs (associated with ridges) and the fronts anchored to them.
- Troughs of low pressure air bring generally cool, cloudy weather. Ridges of high pressure air bring generally warm, clear weather.
- When the jet stream is south of a given location, the weather tends to be relatively cold. When the jet stream is north of the same location, the weather tends to be relatively warm.
- Storms are more likely to develop on the leading (east) edge of a trough.
- The altitude of surface winds fluctuates depending on the terrain, air temperature, and air pressure. Surface winds can be located from ground level to approximately 3,000 feet.
- Changes in wind speed or direction may cause problems for small planes during takeoffs and landings.
- Authorities use the Beaufort Wind Scale to describe wind speed and strength.