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Dry Thunderstorms: What You Need To Know

Can you imagine a thunderstorm in which there is not even a single drop of rain? Well, this phenomenon does, and it’s called a dry thunderstorms.

Dry thunderstorms are common in the Western United States, where the summer season is quite hot, and all the water evaporates before it reaches the ground level. So the straightforward definition of a dry thunderstorm is a storm followed by lightning and thunder but produces little or no rain. 

This article will discuss dry thunderstorms in which the precipitation never reaches the ground. 

The Phenomenon Of A Dry Thunderstorm

Dry thunderstorms occur in an area with dry air at the surface and moisture aloft. In this environment, all that’s needed is a lift in the atmosphere to trigger a thunderstorm. Due to this, most are located in the Western United States, especially in early summer and late spring. 

During the dry thunderstorm, the heat gathers below the cloud cover forming the aerial canopy. So rain does occur during the dry thunderstorm, but it cannot reach the ground level due to dry air at the surface. The whole environment on the ground level remains dry. 

The main culprit that gives rise to dry thunderstorms is evaporation. In a meteorological term known as Virga, all the water that tends to reach the earth immediately evaporates as soon as it falls near the earth.  

Dry Thunderstorms: What You Need To Know
Virga

It seems quite a simple phenomenon, but it has a lasting impact on human life and the overall ecosystem.  A home weather station can enable you to monitor your conditions.

Where Do Dry Thunderstorms Occur? 

The areas where summers are scorching and the lower layers of the atmosphere contain little water vapor is the significant targets of dry thunderstorms. A dry thunderstorm-prone area is in the western parts of North America. All the arid areas are highly prone to dry thunderstorms because almost all the arid areas observe a shaft of precipitation that never reaches the ground. 

According to Wikipedia:

A thunderstorm does not have to be completely dry to be considered dry; in many areas, 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) is the threshold between a “wet” and “dry” thunderstorm.

What Are The Significant Dangers Associated With Dry Thunderstorms? 

Dry thunderstorms are often considered hazardous for two primary reasons: 

  1. Duststorm- A dry thunderstorm can produce a strong, gusty duststorm due to the amount of turbulence being created. Soil gets blown off the ground, which can lead to poor visibility.
  2. Wildfires- The most direct and immediate danger associated with a dry thunderstorm is the wildfires. The strong winds and gusts can easily spread flames across dry land. Dry thunderstorms often ignite wildfires in the under-developed areas of the country, which is especially dangerous during drought conditions.

Dry Thunderstorms As The Natural Cause Of Wildfires

Various observations and statistics have indicated that dry thunderstorms serve as the primary culprits behind the wildfires. They provide lightning as a direct fuel during the hottest summer season. In simple words, we can say that plenty of dry fuel is already present in the dry thunderstorm that serves as a fuel for the lightning and gives rise to wildfires. So even if they do not cause any rain on the ground, they still have plenty of lightning packed in them. 

The situation is even more hazardous in the arid areas where the lightning quickly ignited in the driest arid conditions. 

Remember that flora and dry vegetation also serve as fuels. 

Microburst even further increases the level of wind in the environment and increases the temperature. As a result, it becomes almost impossible to fight the battle against the wildfires. Undoubtedly, dry thunderstorms are the primary source that gives rise to massive wildfires. 

The Potential For Dust Storms

Sometimes dry thunderstorms give rise to another natural phenomenon known as a dust storm. As we know, it is the law of nature that the hot air permanently resides on the top while the cooler air tends to plummet quickly to earth. 

Dry Thunderstorms: What You Need To Know
1935 Texas

This immediate shifting of cooler air towards the earth results in powerful winds that are not associated with the rain but cause dust storms. A common observation is that it can kick up the dust and other debris in the arid regions whenever the air lacks moisture. So this is how dust storms come into being. 

FAQ About Dry Thunderstorms

What does it mean when it’s a dry thunderstorm? 

Whenever thunderstorms occur in the driest areas of the world and give rise to the evaporation of precipitation even before it reaches the ground, they are known as dry thunderstorms. 

What makes a dry thunderstorm a dry microburst?

Due to the evaporation of the precipitation, the air immediately turns to move to the earth. At this stage, the swift wind becomes what is known as a dry microburst because it contains the least amount of moisture. 

Why are dry thunderstorms a significant cause of wildfires? 

Whenever lightning combines with thunderstorms, it gives rise to wildfires. Due to this reason, various weather forecasts around the world provide information about the likelihood of wildfires during dry thunderstorms. 

What is dry lightning, and how is it associated with dry thunderstorms? 

Dry lightning is the lightning that strikes in the presence of dry thunderstorms. This is quite common in the American West and even interchangeably used for dry thunderstorms. 

Summary

Dry thunderstorms are storms that do not give rise to rain but cause other natural formations like dust storms, fires, and dry lightning. Due to the lack of moisture required for the precipitation, this storm does not form raindrops. In addition, They are common in the western parts of the United States, especially during the summer and spring seasons. 

So this was an informative guide on dry thunderstorms. We have tried our best to explain this weather phenomenon. However, if you still have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. 

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