Springfield is located in North America which is located on the North American Plate. Movement of plate tectonics has shaped the continents on Earth that we see today. In this blog the changes that have taken place in the past and changes that will take place in the future are examined. Not only the changes due to plate tectonics will be discussed, but more specifically the climatic conditions that occur during those times. We have already examined the climate of Springfield at present, so we will review briefly.

Source: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/plate_tectonics/plates.php

The graphic above shows that the North American plate is bordered by the Caribbean plate, Cocos plate, Pacific plate and Juan de Fuca plate on the west side and the African and Eurasian plate on the east side. Using the legend, we can determine the direction the plates are moving. By looking at which direction they are moving, the past and future placement of continents can be determined and we can postulate climatic changes.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NYbTNFN3NBo

(Springfield is indicated by a red dot in all images)

Springfield experiences a continental climate with fairly unpredictable weather on a daily basis. The coordinates of Springfield are 37° N 93° W which is positioned in the northern hemisphere. The average annual temperature is 59.1°F. Wind funneling through the lower elevations below the Ozark Plateau affects the wind patterns surrounding Springfield. El Niño years produce more hail and severe weather. (To read more about the climate of Springfield at present, refer to the blog post titled Climate)

Springfield was not always in this location. 100 million years ago, Springfield was at roughly 2 N 54° W. This location was still in the northern hemisphere, but closer to the prime meridian and equator. The image below shows where Springfield was situated 100 million years ago.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NYbTNFN3NBo

As well as being closer to the equator, Springfield was closer to the ocean. As a coastal city, it experienced a maritime climate with more predictability and a warmer climate over all. Greater vapor loading took place due to the warm temperatures from close proximity to the water on the east coast. Although it was closer to water, Springfield did not experience a climate that we would see in an area like this normally, such as Florida. The ITCZ has a considerable effect on the climate back then as well.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertropical_Convergence_Zone

For example, during July, the ITCZ is below Springfield and creates more rainfall, very clam winds, and can create severe weather like thunder and lightning storms. However, the chances of a hurricane hitting Springfield were small. The body of water on the east coast was small enough and surrounded by so much land it caused large currents to dissipate before they could build enough energy to create a storm on the water. ENSO still contributed to the rainfall that Springfield experienced as well. During El Niño years, the surface pressure of the Pacific ocean is higher, so on the west coast there are dryer conditions than normal. On the east coast, Springfield was closer to where northern Brazil is today, that means more precipitation occurred 100 million years ago based on the location of North America back then. La Niña years would have caused the opposite to occur, assuming the location of continents has nothing to do with the oscillation process that causes these climatic changes. (The cause of ENSO is still under study)

200 million years later, plate tectonics have once again shaped a new location for all continents on Earth. Springfield now lies further north and west. The latitude and longitude is 42° N 102° W.

Since Springfield is still in the northern hemisphere, the temperature will still be the warmest in the summer months. The climate resembles current conditions that can be seen today. The future and past of Springfield are when we see the greatest differences in climate. In the past, a lot of moisture occurred with its closer proximity to the equator and it was a maritime climate, however, in the future there is less predictability of the weather because it is a continental climate. The climate will still be affected by the warm waters on the east coast, but Springfield will experience more severe weather such as hail, lightning and thunder, than in the past or present. Hurricanes will be unlikely to cause any damage in Springfield 100 million years from now because, unlike the past, it is more inland and the Caribbean islands extend further into the ocean to break up storms.

At this time, ENSO will have little to no effect on the climate in Springfield. It is too far north for a significant change to be seen in the weather patterns. Wind funneling could increase, perhaps the Ozarks by this time could be mountains that are similar to the Rocky Mountains. If that occurs, conditions would become very unpredictable. This factor is substantial because the daily weather patterns would be practically impossible to predict. It would be much like Denver, CO where weather changes so frequently, it is hard to keep up. Cooler temperatures would bring more precipitation in the winter months, which remains constant from the present.

The future will bring changes to Springfield, although by that time it may not matter what humans called this area 100 million years ago.

To watch the full animation of the progression of continental drift click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYbTNFN3NBo


When comparing the climates of Los Angeles and Springfield, there are many similarities and differences.

*Los Angeles is represented by the black dot on the left side of the image and Springfield is represented by the black dot in the light blue near the center of the image.

Average Temperatures for each location

Both of these cities are in the northern hemisphere, so the maximum average temperatures occur June through August. Accordingly, they both experience warm summers. Not only do they experience maximum temperatures at the same time of year, but they also experience the lowest temperatures from December through January

Springfield, MO: Longitude: 37° 12’ N, Latitude: 93° 17’W

Los Angeles, CA: , Longitude: 118° 15’ W, Latitude: 34° 3’ N

 Average Precipitation for each location

These locations both experience higher precipitation during El Nino years.

Despite these similarities, when compared, the precipitation graphs demonstrate the main difference in climate between these two locations. Los Angeles is classified as a Sub-Tropical Mediterranean climate whereas Springfield is a Humid-Middle Latitude according to the Koppen Classification System. Los Angeles is a marine climate so there is less variety in the weather patterns compared to the unexpected changes that can happen suddenly in Springfield due to continentality. As shown above, the maximum precipitation occurs in February in Los Angeles. Springfield on the other hand, experiences maximum precipitation in June.

The Micro-scale climate is quite different at these two locations as well. Los Angeles is surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains which can create different wind patterns that may influence climatic conditions.

Springfield, however, is not surrounded by mountain ranges. Wind funneling in nearby valleys creates high winds and lower temperatures in some areas.








The Greeks would have classified Springfield’s climate as the temperate zone. Now the classification system is more complex.

The most recent classification system is called the Köppen classification system. In this classification system Springfield falls under Humid Middle Latitude in the subcategory Humid continental, warm summer climate.

Springfield experiences a continental climate as opposed to a marine climate. This makes the weather more difficult to predict as well as more variation in climatic patterns over time

Below is average annual data that represents the climate of Springfield.


High: Low: Average:
Temperature: 110.4 °F -9.8 °F 60.8 °F
Dew Point: 75.9 °F -20.4 °F 43.4 °F
Humidity: 100.0% 13.0% 56.5%


High: Low: Average:
Temperature: 99.0 °F 1.8 °F 54.4 °F
Dew Point: 80.4 °F -3.9 °F 45.6 °F
Humidity: 100.0% 21.0% 74.4%


High: Low: Average:
Temperature: 103.9 °F 4.2 °F 62.0 °F
Dew Point: 76.4 °F 1.5 °F 50.4 °F
Humidity: 100.0% 15.0% 69.4%


As well as being a continental climate, another factor that challenges local weather teams is wind funneling. As southeast winds occur over the Ozark plateau, the wind funnels through the lower elevations and affects the weather patterns.

To closer examine this phenomena, click on the link below and select the article for Springfield, MO.



El Niño years produce more severe weather such as hail, wind and tornadoes. To read further about a specific study done to provide evidence that supports this theory click here: ENSO. This evidence provides explanation for the severe weather that is experienced in Springfield. Although this study does not specifically focus on Springfield, it provides reasoning of the effects of ENSO on the climate of this region of the United States.


Rhome, J.R., Niyogi, D.S., Raman, S. Mesoclimatic analysis of severe weather and ENSO interactions in North Carolina. Geophysical Research Letters. Sate Climate Office of North Carolina, North Carolina State University. 27,15: 2269-72. 2000, Aug 1.








Hickory is located in North Carolina which is 863 miles east of Springfield. This means Hickory is closer to the east coast than Springfield. The Appalachian mountains are along the western part of the state where Hickory’s elevation is 1188 ft. Springfield’s elevation is about 1300 ft above sea level. Although these two cities are on the same continent, they experience different interactions between air masses.

Hickory’s weather is greatly affected by the jet stream. Cold polar air coming down from the north collides with warm moist maritime air causes Cold Air Damming (CAD) at the coast. Springfield does not have this problem because the weather moves away due to limited obstacles nearby to the east.

More moist air masses affect the weather in Hickory than Springfield due to its close proximity to the ocean.

Hickory experiences very cold temperatures during winter months compared to Springfield, where the temperatures are not as extreme on an average basis.

Hickory, NC (Jan 2010)

Max Temperature 45 °F
Mean Temperature 36 °F
Min Temperature 26 °F

Springfield, MO (Jan 2010)

Mean Temperature 49 °F
Max Temperature 60 °F
Min Temperature 38 °F

The water vapor loop from NOAA shows more water vapor moving over Springfield than Hickory on November 7th.

Water vapor loop (Eastern US)

For updated loops like this click here: http://www.goes.noaa.gov/

The weather patterns are similar in both locations, which remains true last week.

Hickory, NC (Week of 10/31/11)

Hickory, NC (Week of 10/31/11)

Springfield, MO (Week of 10/31/11)

Springfield, MO (Week of 10/31/11)



























Atmospheric Patterns

Springfield experiences a variety of severe weather as we can see. From December to February ice storms are a common form of severe weather. Ice storms are a result of a continental polar air mass (Continental Yukon High) and maritime tropical air mass (Bermuda Azors High) colliding with one another to create the sever ice storms that occur. The continental polar (cP) mass brings dry cold air and the maritime tropical (mT) mass brings warm moist air. The warm air is less dense than the cold air brought in by the cP mass so it rises above the cold air.This creates a cold front (occluded).

This creates stable air where you can observe stratoform clouds. Then the water from the mT air mass evaporates  and falls into the cold air below. If the cold air is below freezing then the water will freeze on contact upon tree branches, power lines etc. Eventually, the build up gets thicker and thicker and causes major problems in Springfield.

Historic Ice Storm of January 12-14, 2007

Springfield also experiences mid-latitude cyclones. This occurs when short waves interrupt barotropic conditions (stationary front). It depends on what the air parcels are doing that affects the cyclone. Rising air will create divergence which increases vorticity of cyclone. Sinking air will create convergence which decreases vorticity. The Earth vorticity is not at it’s max (occurs at the poles) but it is not 0. These mostly occur in mid-June to late September.

Click here for an interactive page to further explore air masses that affect the weather in Springfield!


Current Condtions

Click here for current conditions on U.S. map.


Click here for a topographic map of Springfield.


Click here for a Google Earth Image of Springfield












Springfield, MO has a wide range of temperatures throughout the year because of it’s inland location in the United States. It is very rare that a long period of freezing temperatures or very hot weather occurs as well. In the summer, humid weather is not uncommon, however, dry hot air comes and can break up the humidity and reduce water content present in the air. Minimum temperatures range from 12°F to 24°F in January and summer average highs show very little variation in July (87°F-90°F). The weather is affected by the Bermuda High near Florida and the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Jet stream through the United States.

The Ozark Mountains also play a role in the weather patterns that can be observed in Springfield also. Here is a short video on the highway driving through the Ozarks.

Springfield is along “Tornado Alley” in the United States so severe weather can occur here as well. Not only tornadoes occur however. Here are some images and videos to demonstrate these events.












Springfield, MO

To explore weather and climate, I have chosen Springfield, MO to more closely examine the weather patterns and observe the conditions in this area. In the coming weeks, I’ll provide data along with additional media to describe and show the weather. Enjoy!