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Facts About Thunderstorms

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There are over 16 million thunderstorms that occur around the globe every year. Florida can have up to 100 days of thunderstorms a year. Would you believe that at any given moment in the world, there are over 1800 thunderstorms occurring? They are considered a disturbance in the Earth’s atmosphere that occurs with strong winds, rain or snow and possibly lightning. If you want to learn more about thunderstorms then continue reading.

Formation and dissipation of a thunderstormFormation and dissipation of a thunderstorm. © NOAA National Weather Service.

Types

A thunderstorm just seems to be a thunderstorm, right? There are actually a few different types. There is a severe thunderstorm that can produce hail at least ¾ of an inch in diameter, winds of up to 50 miles per hour and can also produce tornadoes. Supercell thunderstorms are rare, highly organized and pose a high threat to life and property, they have a tendency to produce strong, violent tornadoes. They can also cause flash floods.

Occurrence

There are different ways thunderstorms appear. They can appear singly with just a single cell, they are not severe and last only about 30 minutes. However, there are also multicell cluster storms. These types of storms are most common of storms; they occur in a group, can typically last a couple of hours and turn out modest sized hail and possible weak tornadoes. Multicell line storms are storms that form in a line. Thunderstorms of this type can produce large golf ball size hail, mild tornadoes and can be predicted easily with radar.

A supercell thunderstormA supercell thunderstorm in Chaparral, NM. The supercell dropped 2 inch-diameter hail and caused widespread damage. © Greg Lundeen/NOAA.

Damaging effects

The winds that can be produced from thunderstorms can be strong enough to cause physical damage to homes and other property. The strong winds can also produce tornadoes. Hail produced along with the strong winds can fall at an excess of 100 miles per hour.

Interesting facts

Only 10% of thunderstorms are classified as severe. Clouds of thunderstorms can be over 12 miles high. Updrafts can reach speeds of over 100 mile per hour, while downdrafts can be much more higher. The Pacific Ocean rarely sees thunderstorms due to dry summers. It is also rare to have thunderstorms in areas where air temperatures tend to be colder.

Also see: How do thunderstorms form? and facts about hurricanes.