TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The warm months across the Midwest bring a common sight…thunderstorms.
Since we all like to get outside when the temperature gets warmer, we need to know how to spot a thunderstorm.
These are usually formed with big clouds.
At the front of the storm, on the bottom, you may see what we call a shelf cloud.
It sticks out from the bottom of the storm, as one long cloud.
On the front part of the storm at the top is what we call the mammatus.
This looks like a much bigger shelf angling out ahead of the top of the storm.
After a storm passes through, the back side has some specific characteristics as well.
On the bottom is what looks like the shelf cloud, except it is more compact.
This is what we call the wall cloud.
The wall cloud can also be the start of a tornado developing.
On the back side of the storm is called the flanking line.
This is what we see as the storm goes away, and these clouds look more scattered out, and not as full.
Finally the last two parts may be the most important.
This first line is called a spiraling updraft.
This is the warm air that fuels the storm.
Once it makes it to the top of the storm, we get a downdraft.
This is where wind, hail, and rain are formed as they make their way to the ground.
Now something else we usually associate with a thunderstorm is lightning.
So next time I’ll be talking about heat lightning, and whether or not it’s actually real.