Atmospheric Phenomena

Thunder and Thunderstorms

Are there other ways that thunderstorms can be described?

Classifying thunderstorms can be a rather subjective practice, but meteorologists do give different types of storms other names based on how they are formed, including:

Mesoscale convective systems—a large, non-frontal thunderstorm. This classification includes mesoscale convective complexes, which are enormous storm systems that can cover several U.S. states at once and last for half a day or more.

Air mass thunderstorm—a common, short-lived, relatively unorganized, and fairly small storm.

Sea breeze thunderstorm—cold-frontal storms that form as wind blows in toward the coastline.

At this National Severe Storms Laboratory research station, a variety of equipment seen here is used to conduct lightning strike studies. (NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ER/National Severe Storms Laboratory)

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