Air mass thunderstorms - Life Cycle

  • Short-lived, isolated thunderstorms that are not severe are often called air-mass thunderstorms.
  • There are three stages describing the life cycle of an air-mass thunderstorm
    1. cumulus
    2. mature
    3. dissipating
  • Total life span for an air mass thunderstorm is about 45-60 minutes

Cumulus Stage

  • observed as a growing cumulus cloud
  • dominated by updraft - transporting warm, moist air upward
  • no precip is reaching the surface at this stage, though it begins to form in the cloud
  • Air parcel temperatures in the cloud are Answer than the surrounding air.
  • If environmental air outside of the cloud is mixed into the clouds updraft, what will happen to the updraft? This mixing of environmental air and air in the cloud is called entrainment.
image adopted from Meteorology Today by C. Donald Ahrens  1994 West Publishing Company