Global warming’s gonna brew up massive storms

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

lightning bolt
Imagine the kind of thunder that would follow that massive of a lightning bolt!

It’s just about time to put away the shorts and pull out those puffy warm jackets, because winter is coming. That means chilly nights, breezy days, and the occasional thunderstorm. Whoops… did I say occasional? I meant to say insanely frequent storms, because Stanford University researchers predict that rainfall, hail, and tornadoes are going to occur more often in the next 100 years due to global warming.

According to their study, thunderstorms are brewed up by two main forces. The first is called “convective available potential energy” (CAPE), which is created when moist air close to the Earth’s surface gets warm. This heated air then travels high into the atmosphere. In order to change that moisture into thundery skies, though, CAPE must interact with “strong vertical wind shear,” which basically means that wind moves just enough to hold a disastrous storm together!

Okay, I know how thunderstorms form now, but what does that have to do with global warming? “We’re seeing that global warming produces more days with high CAPE and sufficient shear to form severe thunderstorms,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford.

Aw, phooey! Well, that’s nothing a large umbrella and an extra layer of clothes can’t save me from… right? Think again. Thunderstorms are one of the leading killers in the catastrophe category! So, if you live in a historically rainy area, be sure to keep track of local weather reports and stay safe, my friends.

Featured image courtesy of Hershey Desai on Flickr. Image of lightning bolt courtesy of postdlf on Wikimedia.