How Do Thunderstorms Form?

  • Thunderclouds, also known as cumulonimbus, creates a pocket of low pressure air (a condition of the atmosphere in which the pressure is below average) under the cloud
  • Thunderstorm form when positive electrical charges build up at the top of the cloud and in the ground and negative build up at the bottom of the cloud
  • Since positive charges attract negative the negative charges are pulled out of the cloud to the ground in the form of a lightning bolt
  • The lightning opens up a little hole in the air to travel through and when the lightning travels through it the hole collapses on itself making the sound known as thunder
  • Thunderstorms often follow the path of a cold front ( a patch of colder air)

Historical Thunderstorms

October 14th, 2014 Atlanta, Georgia

  • Two people died in the Thunderstorm
  • 14 people injured
  • Thousands of people lost power
  • Game three of American League Championship was postponed
  • Thunderstorm caused $15,000 of property damage

July 1920, Pennsylvania (statewide)

  • 26 people died in Thunderstorm
  • 138 people injured
  • Entire state lost power
  • Thunderstorm caused $20,000 of property damage

Lightning In a thunderstorm (Above)

Impact on Human Life

Humans have taken many new precautions to protect people from lightning. For example now we have:

  • Super Doppler Radar
  • Warnings and Watches
  • Channel 3000 weather updates
  • Most phones get Storm Warnings
  • Candles and Flashlights in most houses
  • More thunderstorm safety and knowledge in general

Sources Used


Science Fusion: Earth's Water and Atmosphere by Dispezio, Michael A., Marjorie Frank, Michael R. Heithaus, and Donna Ogle

Rain and Lightning by Harris, Michael C

World Book Online


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