So I've read that typically high pressure systems bring good weather and clear skies. However, for the current high pressure system we're experiencing in central USA, we're having quite a bit of IFR/MVFR conditions.

Surface analysis prog chart for US

The IFR/MVFR conditions down along the Gulf of Mexico where there's a stationary front make sense, but I'm curious why there's IFR/MVFR weather from Missouri through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in the midst of this high pressure system.

[Flight category diagram for central USA[2]

Is my understanding flawed about high pressure systems? Perhaps I should really be thinking of high pressure systems as stable air masses (in this case stable, low clouds). Or are there other factors at play leading to IFR/MVFR conditions being associated with this high pressure system?

In case it's relevant (and the time/date is difficult to read on the screenshots), the conditions described were happening around 6:00Z on 2019-01-02.


1 Answer 1


In the temperate zone that covers the US and Canada, weather systems are generally related to frontal boundaries between warm/wet and cold/dry air masses, where the cold air pushes under the warm air and forces it up.

But in an area with a large weak high pressure system, you can get a lot of weather caused just by solar convection, depending on the humidity and lapse rate of the air in the mass. The weather systems will be kind of randomly distributed around, instead of being arrayed along a frontal boundary.

You can see it in the chart you posted. The weather along the Gulf coast is probably related to the stationary frontal boundary that is there, whereas the weather in the central states is from local convective conditions.

The absolute best practical book on aviation weather theory I've ever read is called the RCAF Weather Manual, written by the Royal Canadian Air Force as its primary weather training guide for pilots. It is so clearly and logically presented I cannot recommend it enough.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.