What is Thunderstorm? Causes, Types, And Safety Precautions

Heavy lightning and rain have damaged many areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar resulting in the death of many people. In the shocking news, 83 people died due to thunderstorm and lightning in Bihar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many other leaders expressed their grief at the loss of lives. The weather department has predicted thunderstorms in the upcoming days along with heavy rainfall in the northern part of India. With such a major incident, you might wonder what exactly is a thunderstorm and how it can become so severe. Let’s take a look at the details about Thunderstorm, types and causes.

What is Thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm is a short-lived weather disturbance characterized by lightning, heavy rain, thunder, strong winds etc. It occurs in a type of clouds known as a cumulonimbus. Severe thunderstorms result in the most dangerous and hazardous weather phenomena. Some thunderstorms can also bring tornadoes. They are most likely to occur in the months of Summer and Spring. The basic things that make a thunderstorm are moisture, unstable air and lift.

Causes of a Thunderstorm

Thunderstorms occur in every region of the world. The cause of a thunderstorm can be due to the rapid upward movement of warm, moist air, to cooler regions of the atmosphere. As the moist air moves upward, it cools, condenses, and results in the formation of a cumulonimbus cloud that can reach heights of over 20 kilometres and also precipitation. The cooled air in the atmosphere strikes the ground with strong winds. Meanwhile, the electrical charges accumulate on cloud particles. When the charges become large, it results in lightning which heats the air and passes intensely producing shock waves heard as rolls of thunder.

Types of Thunderstorm

There are mainly four types of thunderstorms according to the wind conditions at different layers of the atmosphere.

  1. Single-cell- These are small and weak thunderstorms that die within an hour. They can be typically seen in summers and occur due to heating.
  2. Multi-cell clusters- These are the most common type of thunderstorms and may produce hail, strong winds and heavy rain.
  3. Multicell lines/Squall Line- These thunderstorms are stronger than multicell clusters. They result in “squalls” of high wind and heavy rain.
  4. Supercells- These are the strongest and most severe type of thunderstorm. Most large and violent tornadoes come from this type of thunderstorm. At least 90 per cent of supercells can cause severe weather causing destruction.

Safety Precautions

  • Take immediate action upon hearing loud thunder. Anyone close enough to the thunderstorm can be struck by lightning.
  • Avoid electrical appliances and switch them off. It may conduct electricity during thunderstorm and lightning.
  • Close the windows and doors and stay away from them.
  • Do not bathe or shower, during a thunderstorm as plumbing conducts electricity.
  • If you are driving, safely exit the roadway, turn on hazard lights, and park. Try to remain in the vehicle and avoid touching metal.

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