Turbulence is a common occurrence during commercial flights, and it can be unsettling for some passengers. However, it is important to understand that turbulence is a completely normal and safe part of air travel. In fact, it is often referred to as “the bumps” by pilots and is something that they encounter and navigate through on a regular basis.
So, why does turbulence happen on commercial flights? There are several factors that can cause turbulence, including:
- Jet streams: Jet streams are high-speed winds that can be found at high altitudes in the Earth’s atmosphere. These winds can cause turbulence as the plane flies through them, especially during the winter months when the jet streams are stronger.
- Storm fronts: Thunderstorms and other types of storms can produce strong turbulence, especially if the plane is flying through the storms or in the surrounding area. However, pilots are trained to avoid flying through storms whenever possible, and they will often take a detour to avoid turbulence caused by storms.
- Mountain waves: When a plane flies over a mountain range, it can encounter mountain waves, which are waves of air that are created by the mountain range. These waves can cause turbulence as the plane flies through them.
- Thermal currents: On a hot day, the air near the ground is warmer and less dense than the air at higher altitudes. This can cause the air to rise, creating thermal currents that can cause turbulence for planes flying through them.
- Wingtip vortices: As a plane flies through the air, it creates vortexes, or swirling masses of air, at the tips of its wings. These vortexes can cause turbulence for planes flying behind or beside the plane.
So the next time you encounter turbulence during a flight, try to remember that it is a normal part of air travel and that the pilots are in control and handling the situation safely.