Thunderstorms are formed by the combination of three main ingredients: moisture, unstable atmospheric air and an external acting force making the damp and volatile air rise upward. Thunderstorms come in several different categories, which are orographic, air mass and frontal. They form above land and sea, varying in duration and intensity.Know More
The physical geography and local atmospheric conditions of land regions play a part in the formation of storms. Thunderstorms forming over mountainous regions classify as orographic storms. Air mass thunderstorms arise following the formation of local air convections. These convections exist as pockets of unstable air, and form storms quickly. Frontal thunderstorms develop from fronts. The volatile air in warm and cold fronts, combined with strong winds and moist air, makes conditions ripe for storm generation.
In all types, warm, rising air from the Earth enters the atmosphere. Cooling water vapor then releases heat and forms storm clouds. Lastly, clouds rise upwards into freezing air, producing ice particles. These particles release and gather electrical charges, producing the sights and sounds of lightning and thunder.
Regardless of size and intensity, thunderstorms undergo a life cycle, starting with the developing stage, then peaking in size and intensity during the mature stage, and finally weakening and dissolving during the dissipating stage.Learn more in Storms
Obvious clues to look for that a thunderstorm is on the way include a static noise on an AM radio station, the smell of rain and a sudden drop in temperature along with a strong breeze. Other signs are a change in wind direction, billowing and darkening clouds, flashes of lightning in the distance or the faint sound of thunder.Full Answer >
The old folk tale that a hot summer evening can cause lighting without a thunderstorm is false. What is known as "heat lightning" is normal lightning generated by a thunderstorm that's too far away for thunder to be heard.Full Answer >
Though the chances of being struck by lightning while taking a shower, during a thunderstorm, are extremely small, lightning that hits a house can travel through metal pipes and shock anyone who touches a faucet. Approximately 10 to 20 people are harmed this way each year in the United States.Full Answer >
An isolated T-storm in a weather report means that a small percentage, typically between 10 percent and 20 percent of the affected area may see a thunderstorm. The clouds are usually a part of a squall line, which usually proceeds a cold front.Full Answer >