Types of Severe Weather in the U.S.

Types of Severe Weather in the U.S.

Severe weather causes a huge loss of life and property each year in America. In this article, we will discuss four weather disasters that our country is most prone to and the conditions that cause them.


A thunderstorm is a rain shower that results from atmospheric convection. It has three stages in its life cycle: the developing stage, the mature stage, and the dissipating stage. A thunderstorm is classified as “severe” when it contains hail that is one inch or greater or winds blowing in excess of 57.5 mph. About 100,000 thunderstorms occur each year in the U.S and 10% of these are severe.


These severe winter storms are a combination of heavy snowfall, high winds, and freezing temperatures. Each year, blizzards damage homes, businesses, and automobiles, create whiteouts and snowdrifts and can sometimes cause roofs to collapse.

The United States has seen some truly monstrous blizzards, including the Great Blizzard of 1888, which took the lives of more than 400 people throughout the northeast. This storm brought 40 to 50 inches of snow to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, and its fierce winds were responsible for the sinking of 200 ships.


Described as a column of rotating air in contact with the ground, tornadoes are the most violent of all atmospheric storms. It is usually hard to spot a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel comprising water droplets, dust, and debris.

The most destructive tornadoes occur when strong downdrafts at the trailing edge of an extensive, persistent and severe thunderstorm force a rotating mesocyclone towards the ground. 

Tornadoes occur most often in the Great Plains and the Midwest, in an area now nicknamed "tornado alley". However, they can occur almost anywhere in the U.S., including the Southeast, with Florida experiencing the most.

Flash Floods

Flash floods are the most dangerous of all floods. Combining the destructive power of a flood with incredible speed and unpredictability, they kill more people in the U.S. each year than tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning. They often happen with little or no warning.

Usually caused by quick, violent bursts of rain, these floods cause extensive damage to hundreds of homes and businesses each year.

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