What is Thunderstorm and Difference between Isolated and Scattered Thunderstorm


You must have often read the terms “isolated” and “scattered” showers or thunderstorms while reading a weather report. What do these terms mean? Most people confuse these terms to define the severity of the storm, which is an incorrect notion.

what is thunderstorm

These terms largely define the coverage of the thunderstorm rather than its severity. Before I expound on the meanings of isolated thunderstorms and scattered thunderstorms, let’s briefly understand what thunderstorms are and how they are formed.

What is Thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm is defined as a natural calamity that is a violent amalgamation of lightning, thunder, rainwater, clouds, and gusty winds. When these components come together, they can form a severe thunderstorm.

Thunderstorms can lead to heavy rains, hail, and snow to a vast extent. They are formed when moist and warm air rises upwards towards the colder area.

This instability of the air is the key ingredient of the thunderstorm’s recipe. The lifted air goes on to form cumulonimbus clouds and leads to rain.

When this heavy rain is backed by lightning and strong winds, a thunderstorm could be said to have formed. It would be helpful if you own a reputed lightning detector to detect those thunderstorms.

Difference between Isolated and Scattered Thunderstorm

Isolated Thunderstorm

Isolated Thunderstorm
  • The primary difference between Isolated and Scattered Thunderstorms lies in the range of coverage of the storm. 
  • Isolated thunderstorm refers to storms that cover a small area of the forecast. 
  • Generally, an area between 10% to 30% of the area falls under the jurisdiction of an isolated thunderstorm.
  • Rise in the number of people suffering from medical conditions, ailments, and illnesses.

Scattered Thunderstorm

Scattered Thunderstorm
  • Meanwhile, in the case of a scattered thunderstorm, a relatively larger area is affected. 
  • The affected region's expanse could lie anywhere between 30% to 40% of the forecast area.
  • Scattered Thunderstorms are more dangerous in contrast with isolated ones as a greater land is affected by it.
  • Moreover, the thunderstorm duration is also considered to be more in the case of a scattered thunderstorm.


Now, I hope you have understood the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms. Still, if you have any doubt, please ask your question below will try to answer your query. Thank you!

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About the Author


I am Tim, a weather enthusiast who loves to watch hurricanes and all other harsh weather conditions. I studied B.Sc(Meteorology) at the University of Miami. With excellent knowledge of Weather Forecasting, Meteorology, and Environmental Science, I am currently working in San Francisco as a Meteorologist. Also, I am a member of The Weather Channel and AccuWeather. In this blog, I will write a detailed review of Weather instruments that you need for survival and other activities.