WX MODEL 19: Return Flow


The prevailing wind is a typical wind direction that a location experiences. One way to think about return flow is that it is the return of a more typical wind direction. In operational meteorology, this term is often used for an influx of warm and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico that rapidly advects inland. A cold front will bring in colder and drier air. A return flow will be in reference to the bringing back of warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. This can mean the return of storm chances since a return flow brings an increase of moisture, wind shear and instability.

The image below shows a return flow. After Texas and the S.E. U.S. experienced cold weather, the winds have begun to return Gulf moisture and warmer air toward the north over this region.