Thunderstorms are formed when an air mass becomes so unstable that is overturns in a violent manner. This is the case when lower layers are unusually warm and humid and/or upper layers are unusually cold. Pockets of rising air in an unstable mass cool, as this water vapor condenses into a cloud it releases heat which in turn makes the air parcel warmer, forcing it to rise higher in the atmosphere.
As this process repeats the cloud grows and if the two extremes are sufficiently warm and cool respectively, a thunderstorm is formed.
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