and vertical development. The mature
stage is characterized by the formation
of rain and both updrafts and downdrafts. During this time, severe
turbulence, lightning, and hail are typically present. In the dissipating stage,
the storm is dominated by downdrafts.
The dangers of thunderstorms are
many. Updrafts and downdrafts within
a thunderstorm can exceed 6,000 feet
per minute. The resulting turbulence
found in and near thunderstorms can
literally rip an aircraft apart. Lightning
present in and near thunderstorms can
cause severe damage, as can the hail,
which is typically present at higher altitudes, even if it does not reach the
Thunderstorms come in a broad
variety of types. Perhaps the most common type is the air mass thunderstorm,
which is not associated with fronts.
These are generally smaller storms, and
they consist of isolated cells that last
only an hour or so. These storms derive
their lifting force from uneven heating
of the surface and are difficult to predict with any accuracy.
Thunderstorms often develop in
advance of cold fronts, which drive
under the warm, moist air like a wedge
to create the lifting force. Such thunderstorms can form in extensive lines
that stretch more than a thousand
miles, making them all but impassable.
A STRATEGY OF AVOIDANCE
The first rule is to always get a thorough preflight weather briefing, and ask
specifically about the potential for convective activity along the route of flight.
Early morning is usually the best time
to fly to avoid the potential for air mass
thunderstorm activity, so it’s best to
plan our long-distance summer travel
early in the day.
Regardless of the preflight weather
briefing, remember that conditions can
change quickly, so keep aware. In hazy
conditions, thunderstorms can be difficult or impossible to see. If possible,
climb above a haze layer to get a clearer
view and then watch for the telltale
vertical development. Since we can’t
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©2011 Sportsman’s Market, Inc.
Clermont Co. Airport (I69)