Strong Temperature Inversions This Week!

If you were chilly this week, perhaps the place to be was on the top of a mountain!
Observed temperature at varying elevations (NOAA/NWS-Burlington)
Observed temperature at varying elevations (NOAA/NWS-Burlington)
From Meteorologist Steve Glazier,

The warm place to be at night this week was apparently the mountain peak!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday this week featured a temperature inversion at night. A temperature inversion is a temperature that is either steady or warms with height. For instance an inversion would be present if it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit in Jericho, Vermont and 32 degrees or warmer at the peak of Mount Mansfield, VT. This week (October 7-11, 2013) has provided some really intense ones!

Let's take a look at the data below.  The low observed temperatures are posted for Burlington, Montpelier, and the top of Mount Mansfield. Burlington's elevation ranges from 100' to 400' above sea level, Montpelier, VT ranges from 500' to 1,200' and Mt. Mansfield's peak is 4,393' above sea level.

Mt. Mansfield     42             32                    39                  51              52
Montpelier            50            34                  30                 31              40 
Burlington              55             41             37                  40              42
City                   Monday     Tuesday    Wednesday       Thursday      Friday

Look at the difference by the end of the week! Thursday Montpelier dipped 20 degrees below Mt. Mansfield's low temperature, how about that!

On clear, starry nights with calm winds the atmosphere decouples. The air cools, sinks into the nearby river valleys, condenses into fog sometimes, and leaves the milder and less dense air at the higher elevations. This week was a little more substantial, in terms of inversions, because warmer air came in at the higher elevations from a high pressure system originating from our southwest in the Ohio River Valley moved in.
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