Weather Blog

WEATHER BLOG

July 11, 2008|By FRANK ROYLANCE

This gig's easier with Donald Gansauer's questions from Canton: "Television weathermen say that we have the potential for thunderstorms because of an ' unstable' atmosphere. What makes the atmosphere unstable?" It's sharp temperature contrasts with altitude. Sunshine heats air at the surface, causing it to rise through colder air aloft. The rising warm air expands and cools. If the surrounding air aloft is no cooler, the updraft stops. Stable air. If it's still colder, the updraft continues, forming tall, cumulous clouds and thunderstorms. That's unstable.

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