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What is a thunderstorm?

What is a thunderstorm? What causes them? The Weather Network's Chris St. Clair answers those questions in this edition of Weather Wise. Click the video on the left for all the details.

What is a thunderstorm?

Thunderstorms erupt due to a rapid ascent of very warm, moist air into much cooler air. The key element that defines a thunderstorm is lightning. Since lightning creates thunder, a storm with lightning is called a thunderstorm. A typical thunderstorm produces a brief period of heavy rain and lasts from 30 minutes to an hour. Thunderstorms come in all shapes and sizes with some cells only a few kilometers in diameter and some clusters of storms that span hundreds of kilometers.

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