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.Continue Reading
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
Ice storms form when air layers stacked in a specific way deliver supercooled liquid water that freezes on contact with cold objects. Business Insider notes that ice storms start when clouds release snow. The snow melts while passing through a lower, warmer layer of air. The melted raindrops fall into another layer of air below freezing temperature, but they do not actually freeze until they impact a solid object.Full Answer >
According to the Natural Disasters Association, snow storms occur in locations where air and ground temperatures reach below freezing. North America and Canada experience around 10 snowstorms a year, each affecting approximately 2.5 million people.Full Answer >
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 >
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 >