Weather Whys

By Texas A&M University —


Q: What is a sea breeze?

A: Sea breezes occur most commonly during the summer afternoons, when
the air over land is hottest, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M
University.

“Because land heats quicker than the ocean, air over the continent
becomes unstable and rises to create a relative low pressure at the
surface,” he explains. “The air at the surface over the ocean is then
drawn in toward the low-pressure center over land, creating an onshore
wind. This sea breeze brings in much-welcomed cooler air to the cities
near the coast during the hottest times of the day.”

Q: Can sea breezes cause rain and thunderstorms?

A: In many cases, yes, but the effect varies with location, McRoberts
adds. “The incoming sea breeze is cooler than the air over land. This
creates a small-scale cold front called a sea-breeze front.

Like most cold fronts, sea breeze fronts can create showers and
thunderstorms that pop up along the frontal boundary because it lifts
the warm air ahead of it, which leads to convection. Sea breeze storms
are common during the summer in places like Houston or New Orleans.

On the West Coast, however, the air is generally too cool to support
convection even with the sea breeze front, so a type of fog and drizzle
known as the marine layer occurs more often in this region. “

causing 100 lightning strikes per second. It's been estimated that
the Empire State Building in New York City is struck by lightning 50 to
100 times each year.” The building was originally designed to serve as a
lightning rod for the surrounding area.”