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WeatherWise - Thunderstorms

Laurissa Anyas-Weiss, content producer

July 13, 2009 — Thunderstorms are often very violent and intense weather systems that are still not fully understood.

Here is what meteorologists do know:

Thunderstorms occur when two opposite air masses are driven together; the collision of cool, dry air with warm, moist air.

In the northern hemisphere it is in the spring, summer and fall months which are the warmest that thunderstorms are more likely to occur.

It is not unheard of to see lightning and hear thunder during an intense winter storm.

Frictional heating caused by the movement of water molecules causes great stores of static electricity in the atmosphere that is released as lightning and thunder.

The rapid condensation that occurs when moist warm air rises creates heavy precipitation.

In very mature storms, moisture rises and falls over and over freezing to become hail.

Powerful up drafts of warm air and down drafts of cold air cause very strong winds.

Thunderstorms, they can be dangerous.

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