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The Life Cycle of Thunderstorms

Did you know that 1,800 thunderstorms occur at any moment around the world?? That is 16 million a year!?? So what causes thunderstorms?

Thunderstorms need three things to develop:

  1. Moisture: To form clouds and rain
  2. Unstable air: Warm air that can rise rapidly
  3. Lift: Caused by cold or warm fronts, sea breezes, mountains, or the sun’s heat
The Life Cycle of a Thunderstorm

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The life cycle of a thunderstorm is in three stages:

  1. Developing Stage:
    1. Towering cumulus cloud indicates rising air
    2. Usually little if any rain
    3. Lasts about 10 minutes
    4. Occasional lightning
  2. Mature Stage:
    1. Most likely time for hail, heavy rain, frequent lightning, strong winds, and tornadoes
    2. Storm occasionally has a black or dark green appearance
    3. Lasts an average of 10 to 20 minutes but some storms may last longer
  3. Dissipating Stage:
    1. Downdrafts, downward flowing air, dominate the storm
    2. Rainfall decreases in intensity
    3. Can still produce a burst of strong winds
    4. Lightning remains a danger

Looking to understand severe thunderstorms?

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