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Weather weirdness explained

Updated: May 1, 2019

As you might imagine, I get a lot of questions from pilots about weirdness in the weather. They see something that doesn't look quite right or doesn't make logical sense and want to know more.  With a little forensic weather sleuthing, I can usually explain what's going on.  Here's one such request for more information...

One of my customers saw the following two METARs from Albany, New York and Glens Falls, New York; the two airports are just 37 nm apart.  However, the winds were significantly different.  Given their close proximity he was curious why such a large difference in wind speed, 25 knots versus 3 knots?

KALB 300151Z 17013G25KT 3SM BR OVC006 09/08 A2981 RMK AO2 SFC VIS 4 SLP097 T00940078= KGFL 300212Z AUTO 29003KT 3/4SM -RA BR SCT003 OVC011 06/06 A2980 RMK AO2 RAB12 P0000=

Some of the reasons for this are related to terrain.  But I'm not going to focus on that element.  Instead, let's drill down at each location and see what's going on.  But first, you might think there's a front in between these two airports.  Not the case as you can see from this surface analysis chart valid at 00Z. The red circle shows the locations of both KALB and KGFL.  Certainly no front in the immediate vicinity of either airport.