SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts

Weather Blog: Thunderstorms and Hail

Sunlit side of a supercell in Whitley county.

Thunderstorms can occur at any point during the year but they are common in the Great Lakes from Spring to early Fall.

Posted: Mar 16, 2021 8:00 PM
Updated: Mar 16, 2021 8:36 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Springtime is a great time to get yourself prepared for thunderstorms and severe weather in general.

Thunderstorms can occur at any point during the year but they are common in the Great Lakes from Spring to early Fall.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Download the FOX 55 Severe Weather Center App on Apple

Download the FOX 55 Severe Weather Center App on Android 

Peak severe weather season is March through May.

This is typically when warm, moist air collides with cooler, drier air.

WHAT IS A THUNDERSTORM?

A thunderstorm is a rain-bearing cloud that also produces lightning.

All thunderstorms are dangerous and every thunderstorm produces lightning.

According to the National Weather Service, an average of 300 people are injured and 80 people are killed each year by lightning in the United States.

HOW DO THEY FORM?

Thunderstorms need pretty basic ingredients such as moisture, unstable air and lift.

A thunderstorm forms in three different stages: the developing stage, the mature stage and the dissipating stage.

The development stage starts with a cumulus cloud.

That cloud will get pushed upward by a rising column of air or what is known as an updraft.

The cumulus cloud will then look like a towering cumulus cloud as the updraft continues.

During this phase, there is little to no rain but there can be lightning.

A thunderstorm is in the mature stage when the updraft continues to fuel the storm and precipitation begins to reach the surface creating a downdraft (column of air pushing downward).

When the downdraft or rain-cooled air spreads out along the ground it can form a gust front or a line of gusty winds.

During the mature stage, hail, heavy rain, frequent lightning, strong winds and tornadoes can occur.

When the downdraft becomes stronger than the updraft, this will signal the beginning of the dissipating stage.

The rain will decrease in intensity, the storm weakens and eventually ends.

TYPES OF THUNDERSTORMS

There are four types of thunderstorms which are single-cell, multi-cell, squall line and supercell.

A single-cell thunderstorm is your run of the mill storm that develops, grows, and dies.

They are short lived, and they are commonly referred to as pop-up storms or popcorn storms.

A multi-cell or cluster thunderstorm is multiple single-cell storms that merge together.

Their speed can make a difference in how much rain a particular area receives, and they occasionally produce large hail, damaging winds, brief tornadoes and flooding.

Multi-cell thunderstorms can move over the same area, dumping large amounts of rain over a short amount of time which is called training.

Squall line storms are an intense line of thunderstorms that can span for hundreds of miles.

These are pretty common in the Midwest and it can be found along a strong cold front.

The biggest threat is usually damaging winds.

This is when you can see the bow like feature on a radar which is a good indication of damaging winds.

Lastly, we have the supercell which is responsible for most tornadoes in the United States.

A supercell is a long-lived and highly organized storm feeding off an updraft that is tilted and rotating.

The rotation is due to shear, or the change in wind direction and/or speed with respect to height.

WHAT IS A SEVERE STORM

At the end of the day, there are specific requirements to qualify a thunderstorm as severe.

According to the National Weather Service, a severe thunderstorm is a thunderstorm that produces one-inch sized hail or larger in diameter and/or winds equal to or exceeding 58 miles an hour.

A severe thunderstorm can also produce a tornado. 

Lightning does not mean the storm is severe.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in conjunction with the NWS are responsible with issuing severe outlooks.

There are 5 severe risk categories to an outloook which are listed below. 

HAIL AND HOW IT FORMS

For starters, hail can only form in cumulonimbus clouds or in thunderstorms.

It all starts with a particle of dust or dirt that combines with supercooled droplets.

Thunderstorms have what is called an updraft which lifts the hailstone up into the top of the clouds.

This is where the hailstone will encounter more supercooled water which will cause it to grow. .

It’ll get caught in a cycle until the updraft can no longer support the weight of the hailstone.

At this point, the hail will fall to the ground.

If you look at the hailstone and see layers, this is how many times it traveled upward in the storms before falling to the ground.

Fun fact, the largest hailstone ever reported in the United States was an 8-inch ball of ice that fell near Vivian, South Dakota, in 2010.

Stay safe and always remember, "When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!"

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 30°
Angola
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Huntington
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 29°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 30°
Lima
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 36°
Significantly cold air settles in across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio Tuesday night.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events