This photograph of a cumulonimbus cloud was taken near Fort Lupton, Colorado. You can see some towers growing in this cloud.
Click on image for full size
Photo courtesy of Gregory Thompson
Supercell Thunderstorms and Squall Lines
A supercell thunderstorm is a huge rotating thunderstorm. It can last for several hours. These storms are likely to form long lasting tornadoes and large hail. There are two types of supercell thunderstorms. One type brings lots of precipitation and causes flash floods. The other type brings low amounts of precipitation and develops tornadoes and large hail.
A squall line is a system of several thunderstorms together in a line. Squall lines usually form between a cold front and a warm front. A squall line can produce lots of precipitation and strong winds. There are two types of squall lines. One type is a line of cumulonimbus clouds. The other type is a line of supercell thunderstorms.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more
Tornadoes form from severe thunderstorms. They are very destructive because they have a high energy density. They also don't last very long. This makes it hard to learn about them. Since scientists don't...more
Precipitation (pre-sip-uh-tay-shun) is any form of water that falls to the Earth's surface. Different forms of precipitation include drizzle, rain, hail, snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Precipitation...more
The sun heats the earth during the day. The heat on the surface warms the air around it. Since warm air is lighter than cool air, it starts to rise. If the air has water in it, then the warm air turns...more
After about 30 minutes, the thunderstorm begins to disappear. The cool downward wind stops the warm air from rising. No more rain is in the cloud. The cloud disappears. The whole process takes about one...more
When the cumulus cloud becomes big, the water in it becomes heavy. It starts to fall out of the cloud. At the same time, cool dry air starts to enter the cloud. Cool air is heavier than warm air. The...more
You see a flash of lightning across the night sky. Five seconds later, your hear the rumble of thunder. If lightning and thunder come from the same source, then why don't they occur at the same time?...more
Thunderstorms can be really dangerous! Flash floods, lightning bolts, hail, tornadoes...all of these things can hurt you if you're not careful. So here's some safety tips. GO INSIDE! If you hear distant...more