Why Do SE Wyoming Thunderstorms Strike More in the Afternoon?
Why is it that we always seem to get thunderstorms in the afternoon?
I asked myself this as I watched jet-black clouds rolled over Cheyenne yesterday, the tang of rain in the air. I can't remember the last time I woke up bright and early in the morning to find thunderbolts and lightning (very, very frightening!) looming over the city.
Here in SE Wyoming, thunderstorms seem like an afternoon and evening affair.
How many evening BBQs have been torn asunder by hail and wicked blasts of torrential rain? How many Ferris wheel rides at Frontier Days have been canceled because lightning descended from the sky, ruining your dream high school date night where you kiss your boyfriend at the top of the wheel with carnival lights in the background, and -
Yes. I've been burned a few times by afternoon thunderstorms. So sue me.
But I digress.
I mulled over what I knew about thunderstorms, which pretty much ends with basic science, Garth Brooks songs, and Marvel superheroes—and decided to reach out to the resident expert - Mr. Don Day.
Don, as always, came through. He explained it as such:
"Thunderstorms this time of year in this region need daytime heating for them to form, so by afternoon and evening, enough heat builds for thunderstorms to form."
So, thunderstorms need heat. I took Don's info and ran with it, using the almighty Google to research a bit more. According to The Weather Channel, "As the sun heats up the ground, this warm air rises, mixes with the cool air above it, and condenses, creating unstable air and plenty of moisture - ideal for thunderstorms."
Essentially, humidity increases throughout the day and mixes with hot air rising from the ground after a period of daytime heating, creating two critical components for afternoon thunderstorms.
Want to learn more about how a thunderstorm cooks up in the sky? Visit NOAA's THUNDERSTORM INGREDIENTS by clicking here.