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27 Storm Systems

Part 3. Meteorology and Climatology

  1. Charles A Doswell III

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa029

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

Doswell, C. A. 2006. Storm Systems. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 3:27.

Author Information

  1. University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


The concept of a storm is defined as a weather disturbance that, in the context of hydrological science, produces precipitation or affects the formation and distribution of precipitation. Storm systems are reviewed in terms of their spatial and temporal scale, with the dominant storm system on large scales in midlatitudes being the so-called extratropical cyclones. Not only do such storms produce considerable weather in their own right, but they provide a setting in which the so-called mesoscale storm systems can develop. Mesoscale weather is not dominated by any particular form of disturbance, but can take many different forms. The intensity of the weather, including precipitation rates, in mesoscale systems can be much greater than in extratropical cyclones although the duration of such weather is typically less than in large-scale systems. Small-scale storms are dominated by convective storms, which can produce the most violent weather of all, including large hail, strong winds, tornadoes, and torrential rainfalls.


  • storms;
  • thunderstorm;
  • extratropical cyclone;
  • snowstorm;
  • hail;
  • windstorms;
  • precipitation;
  • tornado;
  • mesoscale;
  • convection;
  • transport;
  • rainfall;
  • lake effect;
  • lightning;
  • flood;
  • flash flood;
  • supercell;
  • multicell storm;
  • training effect;
  • mesoscale convective system;
  • mesoscale convective complex;
  • sensible heat;
  • latent heat;
  • radar;
  • polar low;
  • topography;
  • fronts;
  • cyclone;
  • anticyclone;
  • westerlies;
  • jet stream;
  • upslope precipitation;
  • monsoon;
  • polar front;
  • storm track;
  • mesocyclone;
  • squall line;
  • rainstorm;
  • winter storm