Q:

How do storms form?

A:

Quick Answer

Storms form when warm, moisture-laden air rises rapidly into the atmosphere. As the air rises, it cools and the moisture condenses, falling back to Earth as precipitation.

 Know More

Full Answer

Storms are fueled by heat and moisture, which is why storm activity, particularly thunderstorm activity, is greater during the summer season. The rising warm air cools and falls, creating a convection current that feeds the storm. This is why storms often form and intensify over water, and then lose intensity or die out completely as they move over land. When conditions are favorable, storms often appear and develop very quickly. Some storm systems last for several hours, producing multiple storms, or cells, over their life cycles.

In many instances, the moisture needed to fuel a storm is actually supplied by a mass of air moving through a particular area. This is why so many storms form at the boundaries where different air masses meet. The famed Tornado Alley is a result of this phenomenon; cool, dry air comes down from the north while warm, moist air comes up from the south. Meeting over the open plains, these air masses mix and are warmed by the sun to produce very intense storms, which often develop into huge, super-cell thunderstorms or even tornadoes.

Learn more about Storms

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a frontal thunderstorm?

    A:

    Frontal thunderstorm are storms that develop at the boundary or front of two different masses of air. This means frontal thunderstorms depend less on the season of the year compared to the thermal thunderstorms.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes tropical storms?

    A:

    According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, tropical storms form when warm, calm ocean waters create a convection current in the air above the surface. As the warm, moist air rises, it creates rotating clouds, forming the central structure of a tropical storm.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes a hurricane to form?

    A:

    Hurricanes form when rising warm, moist air displaces colder air high in the atmosphere. The cold air drops down on all sides of the warm spot, swirling slightly as it falls, then becomes warm and moist itself, repeating the process. Over time, the swirling grows into a hurricane.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes hail?

    A:

    Thunderstorms cause hail when strong winds push raindrops upward into the atmosphere where the extremely cold air supercools the water and causes it to freeze into spheres of ice. This can occur several times, with balls of ice falling and then being lifted by updrafts, collecting condensation as they go. This results in a distinct layering in hailstones each time a layer of liquid water freezes on the surface.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore