What type of cloud is responsible for thunderstorms and tornadoes? What about this cloud makes this possible?

1 Answer
Jul 6, 2015



When water is heated it turns into vapour, and that heat is retained by the water molecules. This water vapour is now in the atmosphere, and when the parcel of air that the water is in rises it cools at the adiabatic lapse rate.

Cooler air can not hold as much water vapour as warm air so once this parcel of air reaches a temperature that will not allow it to hold all the water vapour, the vapour turns back into liquid water. This is a cloud.

The heat that was in the water vapour is also released into the air parcel. This makes the parcel warmer and we all know warm air rises. As the air keeps rising it keeps releasing heat as more vapour turns to liquid, causing it to continue to rise.


This occurs until the cloud reaches the tropopause, which is a band in the atmosphere where temperatures begin to get warmer, so that the cloud is no longer warmer than the surrounding air.

The end result in the case of a cumulonimbus is a cloud several thousand feet thick, sometimes more than 40,000 feet thick from the base to the top.

All that energy released from water vapour turning into liquid water is the energy that can create lightning and even tornadoes.