Why is it warmer on top?

We noticed this on Saturday as our club was riding up to Paint Bank from Roanoke.

I’ve noticed it before, riding along in 32-34° weather in the morning about 8:30 and when you go across the top of the mountain on 311, it gets warmer!

Normally in the summer, it gets cooler as you gain altitude. So, what gives?

I sent Chris Michaels of WSLS-10 in Roanoke an email… Below is his response – it is interesting

Hi Mark!

Thanks for reaching out! This is something we typically see on those clear, cool nights in the fall and even winter. When the wind is calm and the air is bone dry, the temperature at the ground level can plummet. Meanwhile, higher up the temperature doesn’t really change due to increased wind.

It’s called a temperature inversion.

Colder air can drain into the lower elevations, which is why your ride started in the 32-34° range. Meanwhile, the temperature higher up can be significantly warmer. In the summer, however, there’s more humidity at the ground level. And the temperature can’t drop very far. That’s why you’re still riding from warm to cooler.

In fact, here’s a screenshot [above] of this Thursday morning. While temperatures crash at the surface, they stay pretty steady higher up. ”

Hope this helps! And again, thanks for reaching out!