As we transition into the warm season, thunderstorms will be on the rise across Southern Colorado. Peak thunderstorm activity usually occurs from June to August.
I tried to find data pertaining to the average number of thunderstorms per month in Southern Colorado, but couldn't find anything that specific in my research.
The closest correlation I could find was an examination of average daily lightning strikes per month. July and August sees more lightning on average than any other months in Colorado. In July, we typically see between 5,000 and 5,500 lightning flashes per day.
During the warmer summer months, clouds and storms are driven by a process known as convection, which is when daytime heating causes air to rise. A thunderstorm is the result of convection.
As rising air cools, condensation will occur and clouds will begin to form. As long as the rising parcel of air is warmer than the surrounding air, it will continue to rise.
When rising currents of air or updrafts are strong enough, clouds will build high into the atmosphere. This is a sign of instability and the beginning stages of thunderstorm development, know as the Cumulus Stage.
During the second stage, know as the Mature Stage, there will be a combination of well-organized updrafts and downdrafts. The updrafts will continue to feed or fuel the storm, while downdrafts will carry precipitation quickly down towards the ground. Examples of precipitation include rain, heavy downpours and/or hail.
Finally, we have the Dissipating Stage. In this final stage of the thunderstorm life cycle, the storm is collapsing. Updrafts have been cut-off. Light rain will still be possible as the storm fizzles out.
Living in Colorado, it's important to recognize the warning signs when you see the potential for strong thunderstorms, and remember to be weather ready in case severe weather threatens.