Generally speaking, a storm occurs when an area of low pressure becomes surrounded by an area of high pressure. As the hot air from the low pressure system combines with the cooler air from the high pressure system, violent molecular reactions take place which leads to storm activity.
How storms form also depends on where the storm is forming (as in what part of the U.S.). Winter storms in North America for example require the right positioning of a jet stream in the more central area of the US combined with the presence of a warm air mass and lots of moisture from the south.
In order for there to be precipitation in these typs of storms, there also needs to be a lot of cold polar air coming from the north. The cold polar air will drop the overall temperature which will in turn create a frosty environment cold enough for frozen precipitation to fall.
Storms are stronger or weaker depending upon where the jet stream (discussed earlier) lies and the general availability of moisture in the air in combination with the strength of the temperature gradients. The colder the temperature and the moister the air, the bigger the winter storm.
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