What Causes Turbulence?



By: Toby Tepp, Journalist

If you have ever been on a plane, you have likely experienced turbulence. So what causes the plane to wobble and why is it so unpredictable?

Turbulence is caused by a sudden shift in airflow. “The wings of an airplane are designed to split the airflow created by the engines pushing the jet through an airmass,” said FOX Weather meteorologist Jason Frazer. “It creates a pressure difference above and below the wing. This difference creates an upward force called lift.” Because of this change of wind, the pressure on the plane changes, and as a result the airplane is slightly unstable. In more serious cases, as shown below, the pilot can completely lose control of the plane momentarily.

However, while unpredictable and possibly dangerous, turbulence is not something to be afraid of. Severe and extreme levels of turbulence are very rare and no plane has ever crashed as a result of turbulence. So while it may be uncomfortable, just know that you are not in any real danger when turbulence occurs.