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Thunderstorm

Thunderstorm Development, Hail, Lightning, And Tornadoes

A thunderstorm is a strong disturbance in the atmosphere bringing heavy rain, lightning, and thunder to areas from one to hundreds of kilometers across. Thunderstorms are formed when humid air near the surface begins rising and cooling. The rising air forms clouds. Lightning over Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia. Photograph by Gordon Garrado. Science Photo Library, National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission. Storms develop when the clouds cool enough to bring about the growth of rain droplets or ice crystals. Eventually the growing drops or crystals fall out of the cloud as precipitation. Strong updrafts and downdrafts are inside a thunderstorm which cause static charges to build up in the cloud. Charges of opposite sign accumulate in different parts of the cloud until a spark occurs between them, resulting in the jagged bolts of lightning associated with thunderstorms. Severe thunderstorms may include hail, tornadoes, and damaging straight line winds, making these storms among nature's most destructive.


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