19 votes
Accepted

Do tornadoes have eyes?

Yes, if one takes the common meaning of the term "eye of the storm" to be the area of relatively low wind speed near the center of the vortex, most tornadoes can be said to have eyes. Cyclostrophic ...
  • 4,933
13 votes
Accepted

How far away can you see a thunderstorm?

The top of a cumulonimbus cloud is usually about 40,000 feet and can reach heights of over 60,000 feet, which would be visible for a distance of 245 or 300 miles, respectively. Of course, that would ...
  • 2,137
11 votes
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How can you explain this storm phenomenon?

This case is an excellent example of urban-induced convection. Urban areas have very different surface and soil properties, leading to a different heat balance relative to more natural environments. ...
  • 4,933
7 votes
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Propagation of sound after lightning

Since the sound waves propagate not from a single point source but along the length of the lightning's path, the sound origin's varying distances from the observer can generate a rolling or rumbling ...
  • 2,802
7 votes
Accepted

Why is thunder and lightning rare, even though it rains frequently?

Rain in a climate such as Ireland is most often stratiform. That is, it is created when moist air is lifted by a front, or by divergence in the upper troposphere. Thunderstorms involve buoyant air, ...
  • 96
6 votes
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Why don't lightning strikes cause a lot of injury or damage to property?

Annually, about 51 people die from lightning strikes per year in the United States. Part of the reason is the low probability of being hit by lightning. Tornadoes, hail, and straight line winds sweep ...
6 votes
Accepted

Photo of sprites in a clear dark sky, how is this possible?

According to this Wikipedia entry Sprites occur at altitudes between 50 and 90km while the thunderstorms that create them generally top out below 16km so there is a minimum of more than 30km of height ...
  • 4,225
5 votes
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How are lightning and thunderstorm intensity linked?

Is the ratio of IC to CG lightning relevant? Yes. Primarily, severe storms tend to have very few cloud-to-ground (CG) strikes. Thus, the ratio of IC:CG is likely going to be very high.1 2 However, ...
  • 1,950
4 votes
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What is the best way to stay safe while photographing lightning storms?

Yes, most storm chasers are risking their lives to take lightning photos. Your likelihood of being struck is obviously higher the closer you are to where lightning is originating from. However, ...
4 votes

Propagation of sound after lightning

Geometry of the lightning channel controls the type and duration of the sound. Imagine a lightning strike oriented directly away from you--the farthest point on it is much farther away than the ...
  • 588
3 votes

Why do clouds have ceilings and bases?

Clouds have ceilings and bases because the atmosphere is stratified. Atmosphere is stratified due to earth's rotation and variance of composition, humidity, density, temperature, and pressure from ...
3 votes

Why do clouds have ceilings and bases?

I know this question has an answer confirmed, but I'll add my own comments for posterity's sake. There are different types of clouds. Buoyancy-driven (cumulus-type) clouds are the types that have the ...
3 votes
Accepted

Are lightning storms more common at night?

The answer is dependent on the geographical location. Over sea, there is hardly any diurnal cycle of lightning (this means that there is no time of the day when lightning is more/less often observed). ...
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3 votes
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Using Range Height Indicator scan of radar

A vertical cross section in RHI mode reveals vertical structure that you can't directly observe in a horizontal PPI scan. In the image below you can clearly see that there is a significant bounded ...
  • 14k
3 votes

St. Elmo's Fire not dangerous?

As you say in your question, ball lightening and and St Elmo's Fire are related to thunderstorm activity (e.g., Griwr'ev et al, 1991). Grigor’ev et al (1999) worked out a formula for the charge on ...
  • 161
2 votes
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Could a large burst of super-heated or super-cooled air cause tornadoes to fall apart?

Changing air currents is very difficult and energy intensive. You'd need to alter an entire weather system - no easy feat. If you heated a very large region of cool air you might prevent the ...
  • 5,747
2 votes

Are lightning storms more common at night?

To help answer that, I'll start with a look at the broader country (and by extension, world), which is primarily my answer from a similar question on Physics SE, slightly adapted: It's good to start ...
2 votes

Snow thunderstorms

Thunder is a manifestation of lightning, the sudden discharge of (static) electrical potential between cloud and ground, or cloud and cloud. That potential is built up through convection of vapor from ...
2 votes
Accepted

Why do clouds have ceilings and bases?

In a sense, the full structure of a cumulus cloud extends all the way to the ground. The cloud is formed from the convection of air rising off the ground. The rising column becomes visible as a ...
  • 2,676
2 votes

Thunderstorms vs Thundershowers

Physically there is no difference. A thunderstorm is defined by occurrence of lightning, no matter how much lightning there is, if it's cloud-to-ground or intercloud. Usually if meteorologists talk ...
  • 216
2 votes

Average thunderstorm days for each month

You should start with NOAA services. They have a Storm Events Database going back to 1950, where you can do queries for states/counties of interest. If you are more interested in lightning data, they ...
2 votes

What causes thunderstorms to develop in the early dawn hours?

Do you have a specific date and time that comes to mind? There are a couple of different causes of nocturnal convection that I immediately think of. I'll list a few, and expand on the one that I think ...
1 vote

Are thunderstorms normal at the end of a heat wave?

Q: Are thunderstorms normal at the end of a heatwave? Depends on how quickly cooler weather moves in and how moist it is. If it's hot and a cooler damper mass of air moves in quickly (over a couple of ...
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1 vote

Average thunderstorm days for each month

I too don't know any direct sources. So you will likely have to do a bit of legwork. Was going to offer that you could work a climatology together from monthly FP6 reports using the desired NWS site ...
1 vote

Conditions of Thunderstorms

For lightning to form there has to be a rising current of air within the cloud, carrying ice crystals and water droplets upwards. The droplets become hail, and start to fall as the air becomes thinner,...
1 vote

Thunderstorms in Mountains

I presume you mean if one were a substantial distance away from a lightning strike in the mountains, would it be heard better or worse by another observer the same distance away in the plains and ...
1 vote

What percentage of cumulonimbus clouds create lightning?

I've done some research studies about the flash rate in various storms. My paper is now in review, but here is some info from this paper: We have computed measurements for supercell and moderate ...
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1 vote

Why don't lightning strikes cause a lot of injury or damage to property?

Unlike storms and floods, lightning strikes a single point. So the area directly affected by lightning is small in comparison. Another thing to consider is that when you see lightning, that does not ...
  • 12.7k
1 vote

How far away can you see a thunderstorm?

Same experience two weeks ago north of Charleston, SC: could very clearly see abundant lightning in the top of a distant bank of clouds east over the ocean at nighttime with no moon. It was ...

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