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Violent, short-lived atmospheric disturbance, almost always associated with cumulonimbus clouds (very tall, dense rain clouds) and accompanied by thunder and lightning. Such storms usually generate strong, gusty winds and heavy rain, and occasionally hail or tornadoes. Thunderstorms have been known to occur in almost every part of the world, although they are rare in the polar regions. In the U.S. the areas of maximum thunderstorm activity are the Florida peninsula and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico (70–80 days per year).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on thunderstorm, visit Britannica.com.