Band of thunderstorms seen on a weather radar display
A February 24, 2007 radar image of a large extratropical cyclonic storm system at its peak over the central United States. Note the band of thunderstorms along its trailing cold front.
Photograph of rainbands in Hurricane Isidore

Cloud and precipitation structure associated with an area of rainfall which is significantly elongated.

- Rainband

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Squall line

Line of thunderstorms, often forming along or ahead of a cold front.

A weather radar image of a mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) over Pennsylvania with a leading squall line
Typical evolution of (a) into a bow echo (b, c) and into a comma echo (d). Dashed line indicates axis of greatest potential for downbursts. Arrows indicate wind flow relative to the storm.  Area C is most prone to supporting tornado development.
Cross-section of a squall line showing precipitation, airflow, and surface pressure
How a squall line is depicted by the NWS on weather maps
Shelf cloud on the leading edge of a derecho as photographed in Minnesota

On the back edge of the rainband associated with mature squall lines, a wake low can be present, on very rare occasions associated with a heat burst.


Liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity.

Hard rain on a roof
Rain falling on a field, in southern Estonia
Streets in Tampere, Finland watered by night rain.
The shape of rain drops depending upon their size
Black Rain Clouds
A raindrop on a leaf
Convective precipitation
Orographic precipitation
Rainfall distribution by month in Cairns showing the extent of the wet season at that location
Image of Atlanta, US showing temperature distribution, with blue showing cool temperatures, red warm, and hot areas appearing white.
Average surface air temperatures from 2011 to 2020 compared to the 1951–1980 average. Source: NASA
Band of thunderstorms seen on a weather radar display
Sources of acid rain
Updated Köppen–Geiger climate map
Standard rain gauge
Twenty-four-hour rainfall accumulation on the Val d'Irène radar in Eastern Canada. Zones without data in the east and southwest are caused by beam blocking from mountains. (Source: Environment Canada)
Example of a five-day rainfall forecast from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center
Rainfall estimates for southern Japan and the surrounding region from July 20–27, 2009.
A rain dance being performed in Harar, Ethiopia
Rain, depicted in the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle
Largest deserts
Isolated towering vertical desert shower
Long-term mean precipitation by month

If enough moisture and upward motion is present, precipitation falls from convective clouds (those with strong upward vertical motion) such as cumulonimbus (thunder clouds) which can organize into narrow rainbands.

Dvorak technique

Widely used system to estimate tropical cyclone intensity (which includes tropical depression, tropical storm, and hurricane/typhoon/intense tropical cyclone intensities) based solely on visible and infrared satellite images.

Common developmental patterns seen during tropical cyclone development, and their Dvorak-assigned intensities
The Dvorak technique does not correctly diagnose cyclone intensity for storms like Subtropical Storm Andrea since it only applies to tropical cyclones
Dvorak enhancement imagery of Typhoon Haiyan at T8.0
Tropical Storm Wilma at T3.0
Tropical Storm Dennis at T4.0
Hurricane Jeanne at T5.0
Hurricane Emily at T6.0

The primary patterns used are curved band pattern (T1.0-T4.5), shear pattern (T1.5–T3.5), central dense overcast (CDO) pattern (T2.5–T5.0), central cold cover (CCC) pattern, banding eye pattern (T4.0–T4.5), and eye pattern (T4.5–T8.0).


Snow comprises individual ice crystals that grow while suspended in the atmosphere—usually within clouds—and then fall, accumulating on the ground where they undergo further changes.

Norwegian train plowing through drifted snow
Extratropical cyclonic snowstorm, February 24, 2007—(Click for animation.)
Frontal snowsquall moving toward Boston, Massachusetts
Cold northwesterly wind over Lake Superior and Lake Michigan creating lake-effect snowfall
Freshly fallen snowflakes
An early classification of snowflakes by Israel Perkins Warren
An animation of seasonal snow changes, based on satellite imagery
New York City during a 2016 blizzard, which
 produced local wind gusts up to 42 mph and dropped 27.5 in of snow, breaking the city's one-day snowfall record.
Snow-covered trees in Kuusamo, Finland
Fresh snow beginning to metamorphose: The surface shows wind packing and sastrugi. In the foreground are hoar frost crystals, formed by refrozen water vapor emerging to the cold surface.
Firn—metamorphosed multi-year snow
Snow drifts forming around downwind obstructions
A powder snow avalanche
Snowmelt-induced flooding of the Red River of the North in 1997
Snow pit on the surface of a glacier, profiling snow properties where the snow becomes increasingly dense with depth as it metamorphoses towards ice
Snowfall and snowmelt are parts of the Earth's water cycle.
Traffic stranded in a 2011 Chicago snowstorm.
Winter conditions on Ontario Highway 401 in Toronto due to a snowsquall.
Deicing an aircraft during a snow event
Satellite view of the Indus River, showing snow in the Himalayas, which feeds it, and agricultural areas in Pakistan that draw on it for irrigation.
Extreme snow accumulation on building roofs
Icings resulting from meltwater at the bottom of the snow pack on the roof, flowing and refreezing at the eave as icicles and from leaking into the wall via an ice dam.
Alpine skiing.
Algae, Chlamydomonas nivalis, that thrive in snow form red areas in the suncups on this snow surface
Arctic fox, a predator of smaller animals that live beneath the snow
Trucks plowing snow on a highway in Missouri
Airport snow-clearing operations include plowing and brushing
Swiss low-profile, train-mounted snowplow
Bivouac of Napoleon's Grande Armée, during the winter retreat from Moscow
Finnish ski troops during the invasion of Finland by the Soviet Union
Army vehicles coping with snow during the Battle of the Bulge of World War II.
Norwegian military preparations during the 2009 Cold Response exercise
Navy SEALs training for winter warfare at Mammoth Mountain, California.

A cold front, the leading edge of a cooler mass of air, can produce frontal snowsqualls—an intense frontal convective line (similar to a rainband), when temperature is near freezing at the surface.


Electrical storm or a lightning storm, is a storm characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere, known as thunder.

A typical thunderstorm over a field.
Stages of a thunderstorm's life.
A cumulus congestus' transformation into a mature cumulonimbus incus.
Anvil-shaped thundercloud in the mature stage
A thunderstorm in an environment with no winds to shear the storm or blow the anvil in any one direction
Flanking line in front of a dissipating cumulonimbus incus cloud
Conditions favorable for thunderstorm types and complexes
A single-cell thunderstorm over Wagga Wagga.
A group of thunderstorms over Brazil photographed by the Space Shuttle Challenger.
A supercell thunderstorm over Chaparral, New Mexico.
The setting sun illuminates the top of a classic anvil-shaped thunderstorm cloud in eastern Nebraska, United States.
MCC moving through New England: 2 August, 2006 0600 UTC
Thunderstorm line viewed in reflectivity (dBZ) on a plan position indicator radar display
A return stroke, cloud-to-ground lightning strike during a thunderstorm.
Hailstorm in Bogotá, Colombia.
In June 2007, the town of Elie, Manitoba was struck by an F5 tornado.
Formation of numerous waterspouts in the Great Lakes region. (North America)
A flash flood caused by a severe thunderstorm
Trees uprooted or displaced by the force of a downburst wind in northwest Monroe County, Wisconsin.
How thunderstorms launch particle beams into space
Summer storm in 19th century Polish countryside - picture by Jozef Chelmonski, 1896, 107 cm (42.1 in)x163 cm (64.1 in), National Museum in Cracow

Thunderstorms may line up in a series or become a rainband, known as a squall line.

Tropical cyclone

Rapidly rotating storm system characterized by a low-pressure center, a closed low-level atmospheric circulation, strong winds, and a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce heavy rain and/or squalls.

Hurricane Isabel in 2003 as seen from the International Space Station. The eye, eyewall, and surrounding rainbands, characteristics of tropical cyclones in the narrow sense, are clearly visible in this view from space.
Diagram of a tropical cyclone in the Northern hemisphere
Hurricane Paulette, in 2020, is an example of a sheared tropical cyclone, with deep convection slightly removed from the center of the system.
Thunderstorm activity in the eyewall of Cyclone Bansi as seen from the International Space Station, on January 12, 2015
Storm track of Typhoon Ioke, showing recurvature off the Japanese coast in 2006
Three tropical cyclones of the 2006 Pacific typhoon season at different stages of development. The weakest (left) demonstrates only the most basic circular shape. A stronger storm (top right) demonstrates spiral banding and increased centralization, while the strongest (lower right) has developed an eye.
Relief efforts for Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas
Sunset view of Hurricane Isidore's rainbands photographed at 7000 ft
"Hurricane Hunter" – WP-3D Orion is used to go into the eye of a hurricane for data collection and measurements purposes.
A general decrease in error trends in tropical cyclone path prediction is evident since the 1970s

Tropical cyclones are assessed by forecasters according to an array of patterns, including curved banding features, shear, central dense overcast, and eye, in order to determine the T-number and thus assess the intensity of the storm.


Any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravitational pull from clouds.

Mean precipitation based on global high resolution climate data (CHELSA)
Countries by average annual precipitation
A thunderstorm with heavy precipitation
Late-summer rainstorm in Denmark
Lenticular cloud forming due to mountains over Wyoming
Condensation and coalescence are important parts of the water cycle.
Puddle in the rain
An accumulation of ice pellets
A large hailstone, about 6 cm in diameter
Snowflake viewed in an optical microscope
Convective precipitation
Orographic precipitation
Lake-effect snow bands near the Korean Peninsula in early December 2008
Rainfall distribution by month in Cairns showing the extent of the wet season at that location
Standard rain gauge
Updated Köppen-Geiger climate map
Rainfall estimates for southern Japan and the surrounding region from July 20 to 27, 2009.
Extreme precipitation events have become more common in the U.S. over recent decades.
Image of Atlanta, Georgia, showing temperature distribution, with hot areas appearing white
Example of a five-day rainfall forecast from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center

When moist air tries to dislodge an arctic air mass, overrunning snow can result within the poleward side of the elongated precipitation band.

The Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment

The four stages of cyclone eyewall replacement: (i) rainbands rotate around the center of a low pressure system (ii) distinct eyewall and strengthening rainbands visible (iii) rainbands form a new eyewall (iv) new eyewall replaces old eyewall and weakens storm
The structure of Hurricane Rita as seen by ELDORA radar
Two NOAA P-3 aircraft equipped with Doppler radar
View from P-3 aircraft from inside the eyewall of Hurricane Katrina

The Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) is a project to improve hurricane intensity forecasting via measuring interactions between rainbands and the eyewalls of tropical cyclones.

Hurricane Lili (1996)

Relatively long-lived hurricane of the 1996 Atlantic hurricane season that affected countries from Central America to the United Kingdom.

Hurricane Lili over Cuba on October 18
Lili's rainfall in Florida

The depression developed banding features as the pressure gradually dropped, and intensified into Tropical Storm Lili at around 0600 UTC on October 16.

Hurricane Emily (1987)

Powerful tropical cyclone that struck Hispaniola in September 1987.

The eye of Hurricane Emily as seen by the Hurricane Hunters during a reconnaissance mission on September 22
Hurricane Emily near Bermuda
Rainfall totals from Hurricane Emily in Puerto Rico
A typical Bermudian roof made up of heavy limestone slates

The outer bands of Emily produced moderate rainfall across portions of southwest Puerto Rico, peaking at 4.63 in.