Thunderstorms are one of the top causes of flight delays. Meteorologist Adam Daum delves into the science behind this powerful force of nature.
Although turbulence, icing and gusty winds are each formidable threats to aviation each by themselves, thunderstorms bring all of these risks together (plus others) and pose perhaps the most formidable hazard to flight operations. Ranging in size from just a few miles to thousands, and growing sometimes to over 50,000 feet tall, thunderstorms are most commonly found in the mid-latitudes; where warm and cold air generally meet. The energy created by just one average storm exceeds that which was produced by the atomic bombs detonated over Japan! Understanding how these complex powerhouses work begins by looking at two fundamental concepts (heating and moisture) that together produce these mammoth clouds.