We’ve all seen it, when a thunderstorm is coming and then all of the sudden it fizzles out or splits… but why?
Conditions are dry and it is the right time for thunderstorms, but why does it always seem like some areas get missed even when a storm is coming?
Chauncy Schultz, from the National Weather Service, says that the jet stream, or winds in the upper atmosphere, can have a lot to do with the path of a storm.
Schultz says, “If the jet streams pass a little bit to the south storms might move a little bit to the south or vice versa, a little bit to your north.”
A lot of it has to do with the weather pattern. If it is a strong cold front it can cause a wider area of thunderstorms creating better odds that everyone will get hit.
“If it’s a smaller scale weather feature, then thunderstorms go through their individual life cycles that are sort of dictated by how unstable the atmosphere is,” says Schultz.
Usually small scale thunderstorms die and whither away, and may not reach the location, like the ones Sunday night.
Dorrell Wenninger, KX Meteorologist, says, “What happens quit often is that there are smaller forces that tend to drive to drive those thunderstorms and anything from a cold front to an outflow boundary from another storm can make them shift direction.”
Chauncy found one study that asked this very question that dealt with the entire United States.
Chauncy says, “Most cities it sort of evens out in the long run, but day to day those cells are just chaotic in nature.”
That means some areas can get hit hard one day but then the next the area won’t get hit at all, getting as much rainfall as the city next city over. This weather phenomenon has on going research as the exact reason is still unanswered.
Chauncy also says that when a storm splits around a city in North Dakota, it is not caused by humans and the ground we are standing on.