Davies-Jones, Robert P. National Severe Storms Laboratory, U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Research Laboratories, Norman, Oklahoma.
Last reviewed:December 2019
- Severe storms
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A convective storm accompanied by lightning and thunder and a variety of weather such as locally heavy rainshowers, hail, high winds, sudden temperature changes and occasionally tornadoes. The characteristic cloud is the cumulonimbus or thunderhead, a towering cloud, generally with an anvil-shaped top. A host of accessory clouds, some attached and some detached from the main cloud, are often observed in conjunction with cumulonimbus. The height of a cumulonimbus base above the ground ranges from 1000 to over 10,000 ft (300 to 3000 m), depending on the relative humidity of air near the Earth's surface. Tops usually reach 30,000–60,000 ft (9000–18,000 m), with the taller storms occurring in the tropics or during summer in midlatitudes. Thunderstorms travel at speeds from near zero to 70 mi/h (30 m/s). In many tropical and temperate regions, thunderstorms furnish much of the annual rainfall. See also: Lightning; Thunder
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