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Over the years I have been asked quite a few questions about thunderstorms.  I've always tried to answer them to the best of my ability, but when going through them I saw that I had the basis for a thunderstorm forecasting guide, and decided I should draw all of my presentations and answers to questions together and add a little bit extra to create a thunderstorm forecasting guide. 

This is just a guide of my own opinion, there are many ways to forecast thunderstorms and understand how they work.  This guide is also heavily focused on Australian thunderstorm activity - however the fundamental principles are the same.  I do want to stress one thing though...

The single most important thing to thunderstorm forecasting 
is listen to your gut feeling over anything else!!!

Remember, this is a guide only - the second most important thing to thunderstorm forecasting is experience!  That is something that no books or guides can ever teach - it can only be taught from hard work and patience.

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Part One - The Basics

1).    How do you forecast storms?  (Please read this first!)   (PDF)

2).    What do thunderstorms require? (The essentials that thunderstorms require).   (PDF)

3).    Introduction to forecasting thunderstorms(instability and triggers).   (PDF)

4).    Introduction to forecasting severe thunderstorms (shear, upper moisture and capping).   (PDF)

5).    Applying everything learnt in Part One to a real storm day! (A practical perspective).   (PDF)

Part Two - Skew-Ts

6).    Introduction to Skew-T diagrams (making heads and tails of those dreaded aerological diagrams).   (PDF)

7).    Interpreting Skew-Ts (Chapter One)(Assessing instability and introducing CAPE).   (PDF)

8).    Interpreting Skew-Ts (Chapter Two) (Adjusting Skew-Ts to derive the maximum potential).   (PDF)

9).    Interpreting Skew-Ts (Chapter Three) (Elevated heating and assessing low level moisture).   (PDF)

10.   Applying everything learnt in Part Two to a real storm day!  (A practical perspective).   (PDF)

Part Three - More On Shear

11).  Shear - it's not all the same! (Certain shear is better than others just by the patterns).   (PDF)

12).  Supercellular shear (learning about directional shear). (PDF)

13).  Applying everything learnt in Part Three to a real storm day!  (A practical perspective).   (PDF)

14).  Summary of magic numbers.  (Gives a summary of all of the thresholds for instability and shear).  (PDF)

Part Four - Thinking Outside The Square

15).  Thunderstorms - breaking all the rules(when storms or severe storms are "impossible").   (PDF)

16).  Severe thunderstorms in low shear(November 21, 2000 - Banana Supercell Case Study).   (PDF)

17).  Severe thunderstorms in low shear(December 2, 2001 - Wide Bay Thunderstorms Case Study).   (PDF)

18).  Severe thunderstorms in low instability(October 14, 2000 - Ipswich Tornado Case Study).   (PDF)

19).  Severe thunderstorms in low instability(May 17, 2001 - Amberley-Warrill View Severe Storm).   (PDF)

20).  Severe thunderstorms in poor shear and instability (January 21, 2003 Darling Downs Microbursts).   (PDF)

21).  Concluding remarks (final thoughts).  (PDF)

22).  Acknowledgements

I would also like to strongly recommend Jimmy Deguara's guide on "Weather Observation Techniques" for learning about "reading the sky."  I believe it is an excellent supplement to this guide!

The above sections are simply my own thoughts and opinions on thunderstorms and forecasting thunderstorms.  There are many different ways of forecasting thunderstorms - this is just a guide with my advice.  I hold no responsibility for the actions you may take in the course of reading this.

Please do not reproduce any of the material in this guide without permission.  Permission will normally be granted for non-profit activities, please contact me by emailing me.