Which portion of a thunderstorm is the most dangerous?

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Dear Tom,
Which portion of a thunderstorm is the most dangerous?
Amy Mortom

Dear Amy,
Any portion of a thunderstorm can produce damaging or life-threatening conditions. Thunderstorms are “weather factories” that can generate five dangerous phenomena: lightning, hail, high winds, tornadoes and excessive rainfall. Each tends to occur in preferred parts of the storm. Lightning is a well-known danger. It strikes everywhere within and several miles around a thunderstorm. Large hail falls in or close to the storm’s rain area. Though rarely life-threatening, hail is immensely damaging. Plow winds, the straight-line winds that surge out of a storm, can exceed 100 mph. Tornadoes occur in the southwest portion of a thunderstorm. The final thunderstorm hazard is excessive rainfall and can result in flash flooding.

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