Three Stages of Thunderstorm Formation Essay

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Three Stages of Thunderstorm Formation The kind of thunderstorms that produce our summer rains are called ordinary thunderstorms, or air mass thunderstorms. They form when warm, humid air rises in an unstable atmosphere. Warm air cools down as it rises, and once it becomes colder than the air around it, it will begin to fall back down. In an unstable atmosphere, the temperature of the surrounding air decreases faster with height than the temperature of the rising warm air. This causes the warm, moist air to continually be warmer than the atmosphere, and continue rising to large heights. When this happens, we have the basis for a thunderstorm. Thunderstorm formation occurs in three stages - the cumulus stage, the mature stage, and the…show more content…
As the water vapor in the air condenses into water droplets and ice crystals, it releases a lot of heat. This heat keeps the air inside the cloud warmer than the air outside it, allowing for even further vertical growth. As the cloud gets very tall, the water molecules in it become larger and heavier. Eventually they get too heavy to be pushed up by the rising warm air anymore, and begin the fall back down. Some of the cold, dry air in the atmosphere may also be drawn into the cloud, in a process called entrainment. Since cold air is heavier than warm air, this air begins to descend in the cloud as a downdraft, pulling the heavy water molecules with it, creating rain. Once the downdraft forms, the cloud become as cumulonimbus, and we enter into the second stage of a thunderstorm, the mature stage. The presence of the updraft and downdraft mark a cell of the thunderstorm. Most thunderstorms have more than one cell in them. During the mature stage there is rain, thunder and lightning. Also, during the mature stage the cumulonimbus cloud gets so high that it reaches the stratosphere. Strong winds in the stratosphere blow horizontally on the top of the cloud, producing the characteristic anvil. After about 30 minutes, the thunderstorm begins to dissipate. This occurs when the updrafts weaken and the downdrafts begin to dominate. The cloud runs out of its supply of warm, moist
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