Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires

Living Edition
| Editors: Samuel L. Manzello

Dry Thunderstorms

  • Nicholas J. NauslarEmail author
  • Benjamin J. Hatchett
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_176-1



Dry thunderstorms are defined as cumulonimbus clouds that produce cloud-to-ground lightning strikes with little to no precipitation reaching the ground. The “dry” in dry thunderstorms is relative as there is no standardized threshold for precipitation accumulation to classify a thunderstorm as being “dry.” The National Weather Service and peer-reviewed literature often use <2.5 mm (0.1 in.) and occasionally <6.35 mm (0.25 in.) to delineate dry thunderstorms Storm Prediction Center (SPC) (Nauslar et al. 2013).


Dry thunderstorms, also referred to as dry lightning, produce cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning with little to no rainfall reaching the surface. While there is no fundamental difference between how typical thunderstorms and dry thunderstorms form, the distinction arises from the environments they develop in and the resultant precipitation totals. Dry thunderstorms form in environments that have marginally...

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NOAA/NWS/NCEP Storm Prediction CenterNormanUSA
  2. 2.Division of Atmospheric SciencesDesert Research InstituteRenoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kuibin Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Nanjing Tech UniversityNanjingChina