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Weather Talk: Thunderstorms need humidity

So far this spring, there has not really been much thunderstorm activity. A few thunderstorms brought some tiny hail back on March but most of the precipitation we've received this spring has been snow or plain old rain.

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So far this spring, there has not really been much thunderstorm activity. A few thunderstorms brought some tiny hail back on March but most of the precipitation we’ve received this spring has been snow or plain old rain. 

It is pretty standard to get through April without much in the way of strong thunderstorms. Usually May is when storms start getting strong enough to get weather forecasters worried about damage and safety.

The big difference is humidity. Thunderstorms thrive in environments with high humidity. Because thunderstorms are tall weather systems, and based on columns of rising air, they are greatly energized when rising humid air begins to cool in the upper parts of the storm. As the cooling humidity begins to condense into liquid water up in the clouds, all the heat energy originally used to evaporate that water, is released. This additional heat warms the surrounding air, making it buoyant. And the top of the thunderstorm rises even further, eventually reaching heights of 8-12 miles above the ground.

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