- The leading edge of a relatively cold air mass which displaces warmer air, causing it to rise. If the lifted air contains enough moisture, cloudiness, precipitation and even thunderstorms may result. As fronts move through a region, in the Northern Hemisphere, the winds at a given location will experience a marked shift in direction. Ahead of an approaching cold front, winds will usually shift gradually from southeast to south, and on to southwest. As a cold front passes, winds shift rapidly to west, then northwest. Typical cold front windspeeds range between 15 and 30 mph but can be much higher.