What is the "cold drop" weather phenomenon?

What is the "cold drop" weather phenomenon?

The last few days have been particularly turbulent around the Mediterranean: heavy thunderstorms, a return of rain, sometimes flooding. What is responsible? A cold drop that came to rest over Italy.

The cold drop is a meteorological phenomenon well known to meteorologists and is particularly closely monitored. Indeed, its appearance regularly leads to chaotic and sometimes dangerous weather in the area affected by the phenomenon.

What is a "cold drop"?

A cold drop is nothing more or less than an area of very cold air located at altitude, more than 5,000 m above sea level. It is also an area of low pressure. The temperature difference between the ground and the cold air at altitude destabilises the air mass, sometimes causing severe weather. The positioning of this cold air bubble is not automatic and varies according to the evolution of the other air masses in the vicinity.

illustration of the presence of a cold drop over France in 2021 © Tropical Tidbits.

Another particularity is forecasting: it is still difficult to predict the evolution of these phenomena and in particular their movement.

The consequences of this phenomenon

Human and material consequences

While the weather is generally very calm around this cold drop, the situation deteriorates as soon as you are under this pocket of cold air. There are numerous examples, such as in July 2021, when a cold drop was positioned over Germany in the middle of summer, causing deadly floods and very serious material and agricultural damage. More recently, last week, a cold drop caused major damage and again loss of life in Italy, with a succession of torrential rains and thunderstorms. The culprit was again a cold drop.

Agricultural consequences

The bad weather caused by this phenomenon also affects the agricultural sector. This year in Italy, tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural production have been flooded. Fruit and vegetable production is particularly affected, with the roots of trees suffocating and rotting.

It is necessary to wait for the water that has invaded the farms to run off before estimating the losses of production and equipment.

The cold drop is therefore a phenomenon that remains quite unpredictable and can have serious consequences from a human, material and agricultural point of view!

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