A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm, a lightning storm, or a thundershower, is a type of storm characterized by the presence of lightning and its acoustic effect on the Earth's atmosphere known as thunder. The meteorologically assigned cloud type associated with the thunderstorm is the cumulonimbus. Thunderstorms are usually accompanied by strong winds, heavy rain and sometimes snow, sleet, hail, or no precipitation at all. Those that cause hail to fall are called hailstorms. Thunderstorms may line up in a series or rainband, known as a squall line. Strong or severe thunderstorms may rotate, known as supercells. While most thunderstorms move with the mean wind flow through the layer of the troposphere that they occupy, vertical wind shear causes a deviation in their course at a right angle to the wind shear direction.
Thunderstorms result from the rapid upward movement of warm, moist air. They can occur inside warm, moist air masses and at fronts. As the warm, moist air moves upward, it cools, condenses, and forms cumulonimbus clouds that can reach heights of over 20 km (12.45 miles). As the rising air reaches its dew point, water droplets and ice form and begin falling the long distance through the clouds towards the Earth's surface. As the droplets fall, they collide with other droplets and become larger. The falling droplets create a downdraft of cold air and moisture that spreads out at the Earth's surface, causing the strong winds commonly associated with thunderstorms, and occasionally fog.
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state of Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, and its largest tributary is the Snake River. Its drainage basin is roughly the size of France and extends into seven U.S. states and a Canadian province.
By volume, the Columbia is the fourth-largest river in the United States; it has the greatest flow of any North American river draining into the Pacific. The river's heavy flow and its relatively steep gradient gives it tremendous potential for the generation of electricity. The 14 hydroelectric dams on the Columbia's main stem and many more on its tributaries produce more hydroelectric power than those of any other North American river.
The Columbia and its tributaries have been central to the region's culture and economy for thousands of years. They have been used for transportation since ancient times, linking the many cultural groups of the region. The river system hosts many species of anadromous fish, which migrate between freshwater habitats and the saline Pacific Ocean. These fish—especially the salmon species—provided the core subsistence for natives; in past centuries, traders from across western North America traveled to the Columbia to trade for fish.