Along with the warm temperatures and humidity of the summer months, thunderstorms also become a frequent and familiar part of the summer landscape. The dark and foreboding clouds, the rumble of distant thunder, and flashes of bright lightning all become regular parts of the scenery once spring gives way to summer.
It is a well known recipe. Hot and humid days often lead to those dark clouds that start out so white and fluffy and gradually turn darker and more anvil shaped as the day draws on. Thunderstorms can develop at any time throughout the year provided that the proper conditions exist, but they are a far more frequent occurrence during the summer. The reason that the summer months result in so many more thunderstorms than other months has to do with how thunderstorms are formed.
In order for a thunderstorm to occur, hot and humid air needs to rise and cool. When hot and humid air meets unstable air, the result is often thunderous. A tropical atmosphere is much more likely to produce a thunderstorm than any other type of climate. Tropical areas and climates closer to the equator experience thunderstorms on a far more regular basis than other areas, so it makes sense that summer months, when the weather much more closely resembles a tropical climate would yield thunderstorms on a far more frequent basis.
There is also an element of randomness to the summer thunderstorm. As a result of the updraft vs. downdraft nature of their formation, thunderstorms tend to spread themselves out vertically rather than horizontally. Since these types of storms are tall instead of long, their movement may hit one neighborhood hard while a neighborhood a few blocks away remains dry as a bone. Given the ebb and flow that the strength of the storm fluctuates with, it can seem like the world is ending in one neighborhood while barely affecting another. One person may be talking about the crazy thunderstorms last night while the person they are talking with has no idea what in the world they are talking about, despite living within a few minutes drive of one another.
Thunderstorms need hot and humid air in order to develop. The summer months produce weather that plays perfectly into the plans of the ideal thunderstorm formation, which is why this type of storm is more common when schools let out for summer vacation.
Frank P. Smith. Summer Thunderstorms. Amateur Work Magazine – Volume 5
Karen Voyles. Summer’s here and so is lightning fire season in Florida. The Gainsville Sun. June 21, 2010.