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Intro to Skew-Ts

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Welcome to the intro to Skew-Ts!

Skew-T Charts are the bedrock to forecasting severe weather. For storm chasers, there is no greater tool to gather what the observed atmosphere (and forecasted) atmosphere is doing. Both in model forecasts and in real upper-air data, Skew-Ts are immensely valuable.

At first glance, Skew-Ts can look incredibly difficult to read — but in reality they’re actually rather simple.

Skew-Ts are made up of some very basic parts. In this intro to Skew-Ts we’ll take a look at each and learn more about what they signify.

Skew T Overview

A Skew-T is a representation of the atmosphere with height. On a Skew-T chart you find find temperature, dewpoint, and winds with height — and with that data you can discern many other factors. Those factors include instability, wind shear, and even the potential for severe weather events like tornadoes.

Also, thanks to the raw data — there are several composite indexes which are calculated on most Skew-Ts.

In short, Skew-Ts are a very important chart.

The Skew-T is set up with the atmospheric heights along the left, from top to bottom, and the temperatures along the bottom from left to right. Temperatures are skewed from the bottom left to top right, hence the name Skew-T.

The temperature and dewpoint lines are denoted in the chart, with the temperature always being to the right (or at worst overlapping) the dewpoint. It takes a very special set of conditions for the temperature to ever be below a dewpoint. Thus, the general rule of the temperature being to the right of the dewpoint will hold in most every case.

The further to the right the red or green line goes signifies that higher temperatures are present. In the intro to skew-Ts video below, you can see more of these features in action.

Intro to Skew-Ts: Video