typical thunderstorm

In this section we are going to take a general look at thunderstorms. What is a typical thunderstorm. We will take a thunderstorm apart into its basic components and how they make the thunderstorm work. Typical thunderstorm – Cumulonimbus capillatus incus   The most distinctive and typical cloud shape associated with thunderstorms is Cumulonimbus capillatus … Read more

Types of convective clouds – from fair-weather clouds to thunderstorms

convective cloud types

Convection forms distinct types of clouds. Convective clouds are divided into two types (genera): cumulus and cumulonimbus. Each successive type and species display more vertical development as a result of more convective energy being available. The more convective energy is available, the higher the convective cloud will reach. In terms of how high convection goes, … Read more

Convective initiation – how thunderstorms start

convective initiation

Initiation of convection   On a warm day, convection begins when the air close to the surface warms enough to become buoyant and start rising. This process is called free convection. The temperature at which free convection begins is called the convective temperature. When the convective temperature is reached on a clear, hot, and humid … Read more

Atmospheric instability

As air near the ground heats, it becomes more and more unstable and becomes more and more likely to rise convectively. We now take a look at when the atmosphere is stable, less stable, and unstable, what that actually means, and how convection initiates. STABLE AND UNSTABLE ATMOSPHERE – INSTABILITY   Atmospheric stability is the … Read more

Buoyancy and phase changes in water


Convection is driven by buoyancy. So we will first define an air parcel. We are going to be using this term a lot. An air parcel is an imaginary volume of air. It can be at any altitude, any temperature, any pressure. Keep this concept in mind. The fundamental physical phenomenon behind thunderstorms is convection. … Read more

The atmosphere – where do thunderstorms live?

atmosphere earth

The thin shell of gas around our planet that we call our atmosphere is divided into several layers. While the pressure falls with increasing altitude, the temperature is more dynamic, alternately decreasing and increasing with altitude. There are six layers of the atmosphere around the Earth: Troposphere [surface to 10-18 km] Stratosphere [11 to 50 … Read more

Introduction to convective weather – Cauliflower clouds

Cauliflower clouds

We will start with the convective weather. The convective processes in the atmosphere involve heating of the air at the surface which results in lifting the air from the Earth’s surface upwards. As the warm air rises, the water vapor condenses into water or ice. This convective process generates the clouds and at the end, … Read more