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Vertical Development

Thunderstorms have been accurately measured as high as 67,000 feet and some severe thunderstorms attain an even greater height. More often the maximum height is from 40,000 to 45,000 feet. In general, air-mass thunderstorms extend to greater heights than do frontal storms. Rising and descending drafts of air are, in ef-fect, the structural bases of the thunderstorm cell. A draft is a large-scale vertical current of air that is continuous over many thousands of feet of altitude. Downdraft speeds are either relatively constant or gradually varying from one altitude to the next. Gusts, on the other hand, are smaller scaled discontinuities associated with the draft proper. A draft maybe compared to a great river flowing at a fairly constant rate, whereas a gust is comparable to an eddy or any other random motion of water within the main current.

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