Do powerful thunderstorms have “favorite areas”?

Dear Tom,
I have noticed that big thunderstorms always split and bypass Brookfield, going around but never hitting that area. What are the actual facts about this phenomenon?
Edward Lupia, Brookfield
Dear Edward,
The fact is, powerful thunderstorms “play no favorites.” When observed over a long enough period of time, and that may be thousands of years, severe thunderstorms strike all areas within a few miles of each other equally often. It’s certainly true that thunderstorm frequency (and the frequency of stronger storms) changes over greater distances, say from Chicago to Minneapolis, but their frequency of occurrence over distances separated by a few miles is unchanged from one spot to another. However, certain geographical features, such as large changes in elevation or the presence of huge lakes (like Lake Michigan) influence thunderstorm development.

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