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WeatherWise - Thunderstorm Types

Laurissa Anyas-Weiss, content producer

July 13, 2009 — We know that thunderstorms occur when two opposite air masses are driven together. But this collision of dry cool air and moist warm air can happen for different reasons.

There are many different kinds of thunderstorms and here are just a few:

Pop-Up thunderstorms are formed when the sun heats up the land and air mass just above it. This moist warm air rises and mixes with the cool air aloft. It rapidly condenses forming pop-up storms.

Mesoscale convective complexes are pop-up storms that have grown to cover hundreds of kilometres. They have grown so large that they have become huge storms unto themselves.

Frontal storms occur when a large area of dry cool air advances rapidly or sinks into a pool of moist warm air at the surface. As the dense cool air sinks into the warm moist air it forces the warm air aloft. It condenses and forms storms in a linear fashion that are referred to as 'thunderstorms along a cold front.'

Lake breeze or convergence thunderstorms occur due to the uneven heating of land and water in a fairly confined geographical area. This uneven heating circulates moist warm air into dry cool air or vice versa and thunderstorms are formed.

Thunderstorms, they are fascinatingly dangerous.

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