What is turbulence and how it works

What is turbulence and how it works


Turbulence, in simple terms, is a random flow of air. In this new lesson of the Windy.app Meteorological Textbook (WMT) and newsletter for better weather forecasting you will learn more about turbulence and how it works.

Mechanical turbulence

Mechanical turbulence is when solids — a mountain, a forest, or a house — break the air flow. If the air velocity is low, the flow can simply deflect. But at high speeds, the flow is broken up with the formation of vortices which create a trace — that is already a real turbulence.

Mechanical turbulence: weak, moderate and strong winds flow around an obstacle. Valerya Milovanova / Windy.app

If you put your palm or feet against a fast-flowing stream or put your feet in it, there will be a slight turbulence right after your palm.

Sophia Ayame / Unsplash

Thermal turbulence

Thermal turbulence is when the air heats up at the ground, becomes lighter and begins to rise. At the top there is a cut of the wind — two layers of air are in contact, which have different speeds and directions. Just the boundary between the two layers becomes a zone of turbulence.

Thermal turbulence. Valerya Milovanova / Windy.app


Text: Windy.app team

Cover photo: Van Mendoza / Unsplash

Illustrations: Valerya Milovanova, an illustrator with a degree from the British Higher School of Art and Design (BHSAD) of Universal University

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