The Anatomy of a Thunderstorm

Dark, looming clouds sweeping across the sky, threatening to burst. With this, they will unleash a torrent of heavy rain and booming thunder laced with electrical streaks of lightening. Thunder storms are a normal occurrence, especially in the early fall, and during the late spring and throughout the summer. Accompanied by a cool rush of air, high winds, roaring thunder and crashing lightening, and a sky hovering with clouds that are many hues of gray. We have all been in the midst of a thunder storm, finding ourselves either awed by the forces of nature, or a bit frightened. Thunder storms are some of my personal favorite phenomena. The darkness, the roll of the thunder and the ink colored skies fascinate me. But how do these thunder storms come about? What are they made up of?

The conditions of the storms including the wind power, the amount of rain or how many ‘updrafts’ there are. The updraft is a current of air that is lifted upwards, and mixes with warmer air which causes the clouds to break free the accumulative moisture they are burdened with. Updrafts are also known as cells. It is the four updraft stages, along with the three stages of cloud formations that make up thunder storms.

~Cumulus Stage.
The cumulus stage is the most eternal, happening basically all of the time. This is the time that the clouds in the air collect moisture. The droplets of water are soaked into the clouds from various places; through the air, from puddles that dry, and from the environment. While the clouds float through the sky, they pull with them any moisture that is floating in the air. Thus, the darker the clouds turn, the more moisture they are filled with. The more water that is held in the clouds, the closer the cloud gets to the second stage, and consequently the third and final stage.

~Mature Stage.
The second stage is that which is referred to as the Mature Stage. At this time, the warm air that is forcing itself into the clouds, wars with the cool moisture that they are filled with. This causes the cloud to spread out and become larger, ready to burst and let loose the water that has been collected during the Cumulus Stage.

~Dissipating Stage.
The final stage of the thunder storm is the stage where the water is releases from the clouds. The ice water that is held falls, hail-like, and as it falls through the updrafts (which are warm, remember) the hail melts into water droplets, hence rain. The Dissipating Stage is when it rains.

There are four classifications of thunder storms. Force of wind, electric energy, the quantity of water released, and the overall severity of the storm. These are the following;

~Single Cell~ A regular, normal thunder storm.
~Multi-cell Cluster~ A cluster of Single Cells, formed and traveling together.
~Multi-cell Line~ More powerful than the previous two, but forming a line of cells.
~Supercell~ All of the above, forming a quasi-steady-state, full of all winds.

The Supercell thunder storm features higher winds, updrafts, as well as down winds, rain, all directional winds, with rotation. These are the stages of thunder storms that can lead to tornadoes, and feature hail storms.

Thunder storms may happen anywhere and nearly anytime. The more moisture within an area, the more frequent the happenings of the storms. Tropical rainforest’s see thunder storms nearly on a daily basis, and places with large bodies of water see them more frequently than area’s that are lacking. Thunder storms are a necessary, as well as fascinating weather phenomena that we can all expect to encounter every no and again.