LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Three ingredients are needed in order to create a thunderstorm.
First, there needs to be a source of moisture. For Midwesterners, the moisture comes from winds that transport moisture into our area from the Gulf of Mexico.
Second, there needs to be a warm and unstable air mass. Normally, the warm and unstable air mass is generated by the sun.
Finally, there needs to be cold air above the warm air mass, which will create a source of lift in our environment.
The lift source is the final ingredient needed while the warm air wants to rise up into the atmosphere.
Now as the warm air rises, it eventually gets to a point where it cools and condenses to create clouds and those clouds continue to grow.
Some storm clouds can grow up to nearly ten miles high.
While more air rises into the clouds, more energy is generated for the storm.
As the moisture and instability continue to build inside of those clouds, the raindrops become larger and heavier and eventually fall onto the surface.
With the raindrops falling out of the cloud base, it creates a cycle of air that flows into and out of the cloud.
So long as that air rises, the storm continues. Once the air weakens and ceases to exist, the thunderstorm stop.
Some thunderstorms can be quite severe, as it all depends on the strength of that up and downdraft.
To meet severe thunderstorm criteria, a storm will need to produce winds up to nearly 58 miles per hour and/or produce hail around one inch in diameter or larger.
Whether the storm is severe or not, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the potential for any thunderstorms in your area.