Thunderstorms are the perennial feature of Kolkata (22° 32′ N, 88° 20′ E), India during the premonsoon season (April-May). Precise forecast of these thunderstorms is essential to mitigate the associated catastrophe due to lightning flashes, strong wind gusts, torrential rain, and occasional hail and tornadoes. The present research provides a composite stability index for forecasting thunderstorms. The forecast quality detection parameters are computed with the available indices during the period from 1997 to 2006 to select the most relevant indices with threshold ranges for the prevalence of such thunderstorms. The analyses reveal that the lifted index (LI) within the range of -5 to -12 °C, convective inhibition energy (CIN) within the range of 0-150 J/kg and convective available potential energy (CAPE) within the ranges of 2,000 to 7,000 J/kg are the most pertinent indices for the prevalence thunderstorms over Kolkata during the premonsoon season. A composite stability index, thunderstorm prediction index (TPI) is formulated with LI, CIN, and CAPE. The statistical skill score analyses show that the accuracy in forecasting such thunderstorms with TPI is 99. 67 % with lead time less than 12 h during training the index whereas the accuracies are 89. 64 % with LI, 60 % with CIN and 49. 8 % with CAPE. The performance diagram supports that TPI has better forecast skill than its individual components. The forecast with TPI is validated with the observation of the India Meteorological Department during the period from 2007 to 2009. The real-time forecast of thunderstorms with TPI is provided for the year 2010. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.