This is about big, big in all capital letters, drop your jaw and gasp big. This is about power, unimaginable power. It is also about beauty, immense and powerful beauty.
What is it that can be immense, unfathomable in power and beautiful all in one package? It is a thunderstorm with towering, lightning filled cumulonimbus clouds. There is no debate about how big they can become. The average cumulonimbus cloud can between 35 and 45 thousand feet above the earth. Something 7-9 miles high is unquestionably immense.
Their unique, always churning mushroom shape makes them easy to identify. Once a strong thunderstorm is in human memory, there is little chance of forgetting the enormous power in one storm. The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorm as one having winds over 58 miles per hour with ¾ inch diameter hail.
How powerful is a thunderstorm emanating from a towering cumulonimbus thunder-cloud? Think about these:
Rain: ¾ inch of rain on one acre dumps 20,366 gallons of water! 20, 366 gallons weigh 210,928 pounds or 105 tons of water.
Thunder: lightning heats air to 50,000 degrees in the lightning channel creating air under high pressure. This extreme press causes thunder. Because lightning can travel great distances, thunder rolls!
Lightning: lightning has been documented to travel up to 25 miles away from the thunderstorm cloud! One bolt of lightning can contain from 100 million to 1 billion volts-that’s one bolt! It can heat the air from 18,000 to 60,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wind: Thunderstorms in the severe category have winds that exceed 58 mph and are the result of an outflow of air from the downdraft in the cumulonimbus cloud.
Hail: Towering cumulonimbus clouds incubate hailstones. In one April 2016 hailstorm in Texas hail caused over 1 billion dollars in estimated damages. Falling ice has power.
Power. It is unmeasurable power. While we can convincingly give statistics and facts in volume about these storms, the power of just one thunderstorm is beyond human comprehension.
There is beauty. Examine the photos. 16 million times a year, humans on earth have the potential experience of witnessing thunderstorms and the cumulonimbus clouds that they form in. Put beauty and power together, what is the result? Overwhelming, breathtaking, and awesome come close-but even these are not powerful enough. This is true, genuine big. Immense and vast describe a cumulonimbus cloud and the thunderstorm it can form.
The Bible speaks of the awesome power of cumulonimbus. Pharaoh, King of Egypt quickly came to fear the power of a thunderstorm. God sent storms that destroyed Egypt. “Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 9:23) Then Pharaoh pleaded with Moses to make the storms stop. “Plead with the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” (Exodus 9:28)
Where does the beauty and awesome power of a thunderstorm from a cumulonimbus cloud originate? God. Can you make even one cumulonimbus cloud? Neither can I.
“God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend.” (Job 37:5) The ONE who creates powerful cumulonimbus is also tender enough to love your soul.