Certain types of severe weather differ in association with different front types. Severe weather can occur with cold fronts, warm fronts, and drylines. In the case of a stationary front, the severe weather tends to be similar to that associated with a warm front. First, you need to determine the convergence along the front, moisture along and ahead of the front, the movement of the front, and the upper level winds. Stronger convergence along a front will result in an increased potential for uplift. An example of strong convergence along a cold front would be winds from the southeast at 25 mph south of the front and north at 20 mph north of the front. The higher the dewpoints, the more moisture a front will have to lift. If moisture is lacking on both sides of the front, do not expect significant precipitation. The movement of the front will help you determine how long the precipitation will last. Slower moving fronts are more prone to produce heavy persistent rain. The upper level winds determine how fast a supercell will move once it forms. Supercells tend to follow the mean 700 to 500 millibar wind flow and upon maturity will turn slightly to the right (about 30 degrees) of the mean 700 to 500 mb flow.
COLD FRONTS: Cold fronts tend to be the fastest movers compared to the other front types. This fast movement increases convergence along the front and results in faster storm movement, if storms do develop. The slope of a cold front is greater than that of the other frontal types. This results in convection that is more vertical (lifting associated with warm fronts has a large horizontal component). For severe weather to be associated with cold fronts, look for the following: high dewpoints ahead of the front (60 F or greater), strong upper level winds (300 mb wind greater than 120 knots), front movement between 10 and 20 mph, and convergence along the front. Storms tend to be strongest on the southwest edge of the frontal boundary due to a combination of the following: higher dewpoints, more convective instability, cap breaks there last, uninhibited inflow into storms, storms are generally more isolated and thus realize more convective energy.
WARM FRONTS: Severe weather generally occurs on the warm side of the warm front but is most favorable in the vicinity of the warm front boundary. This is due to the fact that the greatest directional wind shear is located along the warm front boundary. When storm chasing warm front convection, a good location would be to stay near the warm front boundary while at the same time being relatively close to the mid-latitude cyclone which connects to the warm front. As a general rule, severe weather is not as common along a warm front boundary as compared to out ahead of cold front boundaries for these reasons: A smaller frontal slope results in less frontal convergence, east of the Rockies convective instability (dry air in mid-levels) is not as well defined with warm fronts, convection tends to be more horizontally slanted, the temperature gradient from one side of the frontal boundary to the other is generally less in association with warm fronts.
DRYLINES: The higher the dewpoint gradient from one side of the dryline to the other is a good indication of dryline intensity. Critical point: No convergence along the dryline results in NO storms. Drylines are most common in the high plains in the Spring and early Summer. Certain factors must be in place for a dryline to produce severe convection. As mentioned, the most critical is convergence. This convergence can be intensified by a combination of the following: Strong upper level winds overriding the dryline (can produce dryline bulge), warm moisture rich air being advected directly toward the dryline boundary (i.e. 850 mb Southeast wind at 30 knots ahead of the dryline, West wind at 35 knots behind dryline), and a upper level trough. Severe storms in association with drylines tend to be classic or LP supercells. The shallowness of moist air ahead of the dryline boundary limits the amount of PW and moisture the storms can convect. The cap is critical to determining if a dryline will produce storms. If convergence is not strong enough, the cap (inversion above PBL) will prevent convection from occurring. Strong convergence will break the cap. Generally, drylines are most intense and significant when a mid-latitude cyclone over the High or Great Plains forces warm moist air from the Gulf and dry air from the high plains to advect over the top of the warm moist air.