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Episode 2018-15 - Supercell Storms

Hello and welcome to the next edition of the Mike Wills Podcast! This is the Dog Days of Podcasting edition for August 15, 2018, where I am taking you through some of the basics of weather, storms, and radar.


  • Supercells, there is still a lot of research happening on these systems. Here is what is known:
    • They are highly organized with rotation inside (this is key to what makes a supercell)
    • Updrafts can attain speeds of over 100 MPH
    • They can produce extremely large hail and strong, violent tornadoes
    • Rear-flank downdraft can produce damaging outflow in excess of 100 MPH.
  • As a chaser, it's important to know the visual aspects of a supercell. The most important characteristics are:
    • Persistent rotation at the rain-free base
    • A rear-flank downdraft (RFD) which is a region of dry air wrapping along the back portion of the circulation within the storm. (Usually referred as the hook echo).
  • Variations
    • Low Precipitation Supercell (LP)
      • Barber pole or corkscrew appearance is possible
      • Precipitation is sparse or well removed from the updraft below the cloud base
      • Large hail is often difficult to discern visually. Although precipitation may not be apparent below the storm, sometimes very large hail is falling that cannot be seen at a distance.
    • Classic Supercell (CL)
      • Most supercells are in this category
      • Large, flat rain-free base
      • Can have a wall cloud
      • Barber pole or corkscrew appearance of updraft is possible.
      • Heavy precipitation falls adjacent to the updraft
      • Large hail is possible
      • Potential for strong, long-track tornadoes
    • High Precipitation Supercell (HP)
      • Precipitation often surrounds updraft and wall cloud and may hide it
      • RFD filled with precipitation
      • May have an associated shelf cloud.
      • Tornadoes potentially obscured by heavy precipitation (rain-wrapped) - These are the most dangerous to try to chase.
      • Extremely heavy precipitation with flash flooding

Link/Picture of the Show


Wrap Up

Thank you for listening and remember to always watch the clouds and be weather aware.

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