What is the jet stream?


Have you ever heard of the jet stream? I'm sure you have! It's the driving force in our weather. The rain, the sun, the big warm up, the devastating freeze... It's all due to the position of the jet stream.

You can think of it as a river of air thousands of feet above us that meanders around the globe.

It's very similar to a creek or an ocean. In fact, they're almost identical -- mainly because they're both fluids and they both have waves. It even has troughs, ridges, and crests.

What do those terms mean? Well, let me explain... A trough typically brings active weather to a region. It also brings cooler air most of the time, too. A ridge is the opposite - it normally brings nice, sunny, and warm temperatures to an area.

The jet stream is always there, and it's always controlling what we experience outside, but it has more of an impact on us during the winter season. That's when the jet streams moves a little further south and essentially slices the nation. That's why winter is usually a very active season weather wise, and why we see huge temperatures swings.

What happens during the summer? Yup, you guessed it, the jet stream moves north so the nation's weather quiets down a tad, and we warm up nicely.

Spring is and autumn are usually the transition seasons, and the jet really doesn't know where to go. That "inner battle" the jet stream deals with is why we have severe weather during those two seasons.


The jet stream this winter has been highly active, and there are no signs of that changing.

At the moment it is set up in such a way that the active weather will stay across the eastern two-thirds of the nation while the west stays relatively quiet.

This is due to a huge trough forming just over the Canadian border, and it's sending spokes of energy into the U.S. Each little spoke of energy delivers a shot of cooler air and nasty weather.

Some of that energy will actually reach South Florida this week. Believe it or not we are anticipating a cool down come Friday... And yes, it's all tied to our friend, the jet stream. 

Print this article Back to Top