How do thunderstorms form?

Thunderstorms are very common. A thunderstorm is a storm causing lightning and thundering. We can easily recognize thunderstorms by huge clouds, lightning, torrential rain, and stormy winds. Such type of thunderstorm weather brings the life-giving rains. But how does such weather form where rain arrives with thunder and lightning? Let’s see.

How do thunderstorms form?

Thunderstorm develops in warm, moist, and unstable air masses conditions. The formation of a thunderstorm is completed in three stages: Developing or cumulus stage, mature stage, and dissipating stage.

Developing or cumulus stage

warm and moist air rises upward in the atmosphere. At this height, moist air cools and condenses into cumulus clouds. cumulus clouds look like cotton fluffy. The updraft brings in even more warm and moist air.  Updraft is the upward movement of air. The cumulus cloud grows taller as rising air fed more moisture from below. This growing cumulus cloud looks like a tower or dome.

As the water vapor condenses into liquid or solid particles, it releases a large quantity of latent heat. The latent heat keeps the rising air inside the clouds warmer than the surrounding air. The updraft keeps water droplets suspended into clouds. so, during the developing stage, there is no precipitation occurs.

Due to the well-developed cloud, the clouds particles collide and join with one another. Thus, the liquid or ice particles rising upward and grow larger. The cloud now becomes a dark cumulonimbus cloud. This cold air is heavier than the surrounding air. Therefore, the air begins to descend which is known as the downdraft.

Mature stage

The presence of downdraft indicates the onset of the mature state. During downdraft, ice particles begin to melt and fall as precipitation. The top of the cloud reaches the height where it is most stable. At this height, the upper air expands the particles of the cloud horizontally, causing the clouds to take the shape of the anvil.

In a mature stage, the updraft and downdraft causing lightning and thunder. As downdraft reaches the surface, the cool air spreads out horizontally in all directions.

Dissipating stage

It is the final stage where a thunderstorm breaks down. After a mature stage, a thunderstorm begins to dissipate in about 20-30 minutes. The dissipating stage occurs when the updraft weakens. Due to downdraft, moist updrafts do not reach the cloud. This is the reason that the thunderstorm does not last very long. A thunderstorm may go through its three stages in an hour or less.

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