Weather Lab: How to make a thunderstorm


This week’s weather lab we went through the process of how a thunderstorm forms.

⦁    Clear Plastic Container (Shoebox size)
⦁    Ice cube with blue food coloring
⦁    Red food coloring

There are three main elements for thunderstorm formation; moisture, lift, and an unstable atmosphere.

The day before, fill an ice cube with water and dye the water blue. Once the water is frozen, fill your container two-thirds of the way up with lukewarm water.

Once you do this, allow the water to sit for a couple of minutes. 

Next, place a dyed ice cube in the water and a couple of drops of red food coloring at the opposite end of the container. You will begin to notice that the blue dye from the ice cube will begin to sink as the red dye begins to rise. 

The cold sinking air is forcing the warm air to rise, causing an unstable environment. Lift is the final element is created from updrafts. 

There are three distinct stages for the life cycle of a thunderstorm. The first stage is known as the development stage. During this stage, we begin to see the development of a towering cumulus cloud. The air within the cloud is primarily dominated but updrafts, causing the cloud to grow vertically. 

During the mature stage, an anvil will begin to take shape at the top of the cloud. Updrafts and downdrafts both exist during this stage. This stage is also when we see rain and the potential for severe weather. 

When we begin to see overshooting tops this is when the storm begins to dissipate; this is the final stage. There is a loss in moist air supply and updrafts; downdrafts become dominant. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

If you have a news tip or a correction to the story you can email it to us through this link. If you would like to send a comment to the author of the story, you can find their email on our Meet the Team page.

Weather Lab Article Bin

More Weather Lab


Click for Interactive Radar

Trending Now