This year, many states in the US have seen severe weather conditions, such as thunderstorms, like never before. Here’s some basic info you need to know about thunderstorms.

What’s a thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm is a rain shower during which thunder is heard. Thunder comes from lightning, so lightning is a part of every thunderstorm.

What’s a severe thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm is severe if it contains a tornado, winds gusting more than 50 knots (57.5 mph), or hail one inch or greater.

When are thunderstorms most likely to occur?

Thunderstorms can occur all year long and at any hour. However, summer and spring weather and afternoon and evening hours are when these storms are the most likely to occur. Along the Gulf Coast and throughout western and southeastern states, most thunderstorms take place during the afternoon. In the Plains states, thunderstorms frequently happen in the late afternoon.

Which regions commonly experience severe thunderstorms?

The regions between Texas and southern Minnesota face the greatest threat of severe weather in the US. However, no place in the US is entirely resistant to such threats.

How many thunderstorms occur annually?

An estimated 16 million thunderstorms occur annually each year. At any given moment, roughly 2,000 thunderstorms are in progress. In the US alone, approximately 100,000 thunderstorms happen, of which around 10% turn into severe ones.

Why do meteorologists sometimes use the word convection when talking about thunderstorms?

Due to surface heat, an upward atmospheric motion (convection) transports whatever is in the air, especially any moisture the air contains. Convection leads to thunderstorms.

What kinds of damage can thunderstorms cause?

Thunderstorms can lead to several hazardous weather events. Under conducive conditions, rainfall due to thunderstorms can cause flash flooding, leaving more people dead than lightning, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Lightning is responsible for many fires across the globe each year.

Hailstones that are the size of softballs can damage windows and cars and kill livestock if left out in the open. Strong straight-line winds (up to more than 120 mph) associated with thunderstorms plow down mobile homes, trees, and power lines. Tornadoes with winds up to about 300 mph can destroy everything except the best-built structures.

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