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All about Thunderstorms and How They Are Formed

By Edited Oct 7, 2016 0 0

I was wondering that last night while I was looking out of my window and watching the spectacular light show. How a Thunderstorm like this seems to pop up out of thin air is remarkable. But I know Thunderstorms do not just pop up like that without a process that has to happen in order for a Thunderstorm to build up and unleash its power. I know something about how they are formed which has a lot to do with the hot air rising and meeting with the cold air or something like that.

Below I will try to explain how Thunderstorms are formed and why.  Are you ready? Then let’s begin!

Supercell Thunderstorm
What is a Thunderstorm?

A Thunderstorm is a form of storm that is characterized by the presence of lighting and its acoustic effect on the earth’s atmosphere known as Thunder. Cumulonimbus is the type of cloud that makes up the Thunderstorm. You can usually tell a Cumulonimbus cloud by how tall it looks in the sky. The cloud will continue to grow from 8 to 12 miles high. At times a Thunder storm cloud may grow so tall that it will flatten out and may look like an anvil or what I like to call a flat top. Thunderstorms are usually accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain and in some instances snow, sleet or hail and at times no precipitation. Thunderstorms can generally be formed anywhere in the world but happens more frequently within areas where warm moist air collides with cooler air. Also a thunderstorm that is going for several hours can expend enough energy to equal 50 a-bombs of the type that has been dropped over Japan during World War 2. Now that’s a lot of energy! Also Thunderstorms are can also if conditions are right form tornadoes and or hurricanes which can add to the danger.

What Causes a Thunderstorm?

Thunderstorms are formed when an air mass becomes unstable that it overturns on each other creating the rising warm and humid air to meet with the cold air and the water vapor from the warm humid air condenses into a cloud and releases the heat. The release of heat from the cloud will make the cloud grow higher and higher into the sky. The Thunder storm can be 40 to 60,000 feet high the high portions of the cloud are made of ice, sleet and sometimes hail.  Thunderstorms are most common on land when the ground is heated by the sun causes the lower part of the Troposphere to become unstable from the high temperatures from the ground and the amount of water vapor in the air. There must be a sufficient amount of water vapor in the air for a thunderstorm to develop. Water vapor is the fuel that creates Thunderstorms. As the thunderstorm uses the water vapor it will expel it as rainfall which in time will make the Thunderstorm become stable and cooling the air cools the lower part of the atmosphere while the warm air goes to the cooler part of the atmosphere.

The updrafts of the thunderstorm can reach 50 knots or more which feeds the thunderstorm and can help support the weight of hail stones as they grow inside the thunderstorm cloud. Pilots usually avoid going through these types of storms because of the turbulence and the stresses it will put an aircraft through. The only reason they will go through a Thunderstorm if they have no other alternative. Fortunately the airplane manufacturers have designed their aircrafts with this in mind.

Facts about Thunderstorms:

Here are some facts that can help you understand more about this phenomenon we call Thunderstorms.

  1. Lightning:
    1. 93 deaths and 300 injuries each year
    2. Causes millions of dollars in property and forest damage annually
    3. Winds
      1. Winds can exceed to 100 knots
      2. Wind, down bursts can cause tornado like damage
      3. Hail:
        1. Causes damages that can reach up to the billions of dollars to property and injuries to people
    4. Flash Floods
      1. The most dangerous part of a storm which kills nearly 140 people each year
      2. Most flash floods deaths occur at night while people are sleeping or become trapped in their cars.

Well I hope that you were able to read this and understand more about Thunderstorms. I know I have doing the research and looking through websites I too have learned quite a few things.

Please if you have any comments or any other fact I may have missed please leave a comment below




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