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Weather Talk: Humid days can yield storms, but they need trigger

This past Sunday was a perfect example of how warm and humid air is an ingredient, but not necessarily the key ingredient for severe thunderstorms. It was 90 degrees Sunday afternoon with dew point temperatures in the mid 60s. It was also almost ...

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WDAY meteorologist John Wheeler

This past Sunday was a perfect example of how warm and humid air is an ingredient, but not necessarily the key ingredient for severe thunderstorms.

It was 90 degrees Sunday afternoon with dew point temperatures in the mid 60s. It was also almost perfectly sunny without even the slightest threat of a storm.

Warm and humid air is fuel for thunderstorms. Specifically, it is the thermodynamic energy release when evaporated water is cooled to condensation within the updraft of a developing thunderstorm that makes them explode ferociously.

On Sunday, there was plenty of fuel. But there was no trigger.

Depending on atmospheric conditions, a warm and humid day may yield anything from scattered weak thundershowers to blue skies unless there is something to trigger the storms.

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The trigger can be a front which causes a confluence of surface air or a combination of cold air aloft and stronger winds aloft which increases instability and/or encourages rising motions.

Without the trigger, instead of stormy weather, it is just warm and humid.

Have a weather question you’d like answered? Email  weather@wday.com  or write to WDAY Stormtracker, WDAY-TV, Box 2466, Fargo, ND 58108

Check out the StormTracker blog here   

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