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.Continue Reading
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 about Storms
Tornadoes form when unstable air in a thunderstorm creates a horizontal rotation in the clouds and strong downdrafts draw that vortex down to the ground. Overlapping fronts can trigger the wind shear necessary to initiate a tornado's rotation, which is why meteorologists issue watches whenever severe thunderstorms threaten. Tornadoes can form with very little notice and are particularly unpredictable and dangerous weather events.Full Answer >
According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, tornadoes form when warm air creates a rotating updraft in a powerful thunderstorm. When winds blow in sharply different directions or at different speeds in these storms, they can set up a rotation that feeds on itself, creating a condition called a mesocyclone. When this construct rotates and touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.Full Answer >
Tornadoes form out of thunderstorms, where moist air rises, cools and condenses into clouds that release heat and force cooler air back down. If the updrafts are strong enough, the feedback loop forms an air vortex that continues to shunt more moist air upwards and eventually forms a tornado.Full Answer >
A thunderstorm is a storm with heavy rainfall accompanied by wind, thunder and lightning. These storms occur when air that is moist and close to the ground heats up and rises to form cumulonimbus clouds that produce precipitation. Electrical charges develop near the bottom of the clouds, resulting in lightning discharges.Full Answer >