x
Breaking News
More () »

How thunderstorms form, and how you can stay safe

Thunderstorm formation has to do with instability of the air that usually begins in April or May.

BOISE, Idaho — Idahoans are well aware that Spring often brings thunderstorms and rain.

Thunderstorm formation has to do with instability of the air that usually begins in April or May. 

Storms are common when warm air rises from the surface into the cooler moist air above, developing a vertical column of clouds that we recognize as thunderstorms.

Spring and summer are common seasons for this phenomenon because of the longer day: The sun is higher in the sky, heating the air near the ground.

"In the afternoon, warm air begins to rise, much like a hot air balloon rises with cooler air around it," said KTVB Meteorologist Rick Lantz.

Another way for air to rise is from an approaching cold front. The front approaches our valley, digging under the warmer air and causing the air to lift, developing the process of warm air rising into the cooler moist air above, bringing thunderstorms.

Severe weather could also occur and is classified with winds gusting over 57 mph, hail an inch or greater in diameter, or a tornado occurrence. In all of these cases, the storm is strong enough to potentially cause damage to homes and property.

"Many people like to watch a thunderstorm outside, but always keep in mind, when you hear thunder, lightning is in the area," Lantz said. "Lightning can be dangerous and sometimes deadly.  Always find shelter inside your car or in a sturdy building."

Watch more weather:

See the latest weather forecasts and news in our YouTube playlist: