What is a Thunderstorm?

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What is a Thunderstorm? Blog Image


Heavy rains and thunderstorms lashed the UAE recently, leading to the cancellation of several international flights.

About Thunderstorm:

  • A thunderstorm is a rain shower during which you hear thunder. Since thunder comes from lightning, all thunder storms have lightning.
  • Formation:
    • Thunderstorms arise when layers of warm, moist air rise in a large, swift updraft to cooler regions of the atmosphere.
    • There, the moisture contained in the updraft condenses to form towering cumulonimbus clouds and, eventually, precipitation.
    • Columns of cooled air then sink earthward, striking the ground with strong downdrafts and horizontal winds.
    • At the same time, electrical charges accumulate on cloud particles (water droplets and ice). 
    • Lightning discharges occur when the accumulated electric charge becomes sufficiently large.
    • Lightning heats the air it passes through so intensely and quickly that shock waves are produced. These shock waves are heard as claps and rolls of thunder
    • On occasion, severe thunderstorms are accompanied by swirling vortices of air that become concentrated and powerful enough to form tornadoes.
  • What is a severe thunderstorm? A thunderstorm is classified as “severe” when it contains one or more of the following: hail one inch or greater, winds gusting in excess of 50 knots (57.5 mph), or a tornado.
  • Thunderstorms are known to occur in almost every region of the world, though they are rare in polar regions and infrequent at latitudes higher than 50° N and 50° S.
  • The temperate and tropical regions of the world, therefore, are the most prone to thunderstorms.

Q1: What are cumulonimbus clouds?

Cumulonimbus clouds are menacing looking multi-level clouds, extending high into the sky in towers or plumes. More commonly known as thunderclouds, cumulonimbus is the only cloud type that can produce hail, thunder and lightning. The base of the cloud is often flat, with a very dark wall-like feature hanging underneath, and may only lie a few hundred feet above the Earth's surface.

Source: Several Flights Cancelled As Heavy Rains, Thunderstorms Return To UAE