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Global Solo Challenge: Wind maps and grib files, how to make the most of them

by Global Solo Challenge 18 Aug 2021 10:03 PDT
A stormy cold front approaching near Cape Horn © Global Solo Challenge

Wind maps derived from grib files are nothing more than one of the possible representations of the development of the meteorological situation.

The attention is focused on the wind but also on the wind maps derived from grib files, with a little bit of practice it is possible to draw many other very important conclusions. This is why they deserve an in-depth study, to understand the wind maps deribed from grib files and especially the limitations. This will make them more useful by remembering a few important considerations that we are now going to discover.

The life cycle of a depression

To understand a wind map or grib well, we must immediately talk about the most important of the limitations of this representation of forecasts. Wind maps or gribs do not report cloud cover, warm, cold and occluded fronts. Nor do they indicate which are the centers of high or low pressures. The less experienced user may find it difficult to make any assessment. It is of little use to observe many colored arrows and hope that reality matches the prediction.

From the wind maps or gribs we can deduce by logical steps much more information than is represented. First of all we could find cyclones and anticyclones or areas of high and low pressure. High pressures will be characterized by weak winds blowing in a clockwise rotation. The depressions will be recognised by the classic whirlwinds of intense wind in counterclockwise rotation.

Warm fronts and cold fronts

The second logical step is to remember that fronts, warm and cold, are exclusively associated with depressions. Understanding the birth of a depression, its development and dissolution is the first step in understanding what is happening when you analyse the weather situation. The topic can be addressed by studying a text on meteorology or by enrolling in a course or by referring to the many online resources.

The matter is undoubtedly complex and often we end up having even more confused ideas. Even worse, those who think they have understood everything and suffer from the know-it-all syndrome. These people, pointing the finger at clouds imagine that with a quick glance you can understand everything. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they are completely wrong, showing you that their brilliant intuition and interpretation was not much more than a coincidence. You shouldn't fall into this category and rely on chance!

Knowing the overall situation, on the other hand, will allow you to interpret local phenomena. The reverse is not necessarily true and the ability to make logical deductions by observing a wind map or gribs will help you to really understand what is going on.

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