Identity of Storm Features II

All images and text © copyright Gene Moore
unless otherwise indicated

wall cloud tailcloud

The first image is of another wall cloud. The reason I chose this one is the feature on the right side. Note the scallops of moisture coming out of the core to the right and lifting up into the forming wall cloud. Sometimes this inflow takes on a dramatic appearance as a tail cloud. The tail cloud usually extends out from the inflow side of the wall cloud. One of these tail clouds is shown in the right image. It is feeding into a tornadic wall cloud or mesocyclone. The smooth appearance comes from lifting air that is negatively buoyant or air that is not convective. Additionally, tail clouds tend to be smoothed into a laminar pattern by strong inflow winds.

Colorado supercell storm flow

The evening shot is of a supercell thunderstorm with the features shown here. A tail or inflow cloud is streaming in from the west. It connects with a large rotating tower which contained mesocyclone. Note the 45 degree banding on the side of the rotating storm tower. A good clue that a mesocyclone is contained within. This tower extends all the way to the penetrating top of the storm. The anvil of the storm is back sheared into the jet stream westerlies and midlevel banding arcs into the storm. This cell produced a tornado about 15 minutes after this photo.

tail cloud and rotating storm rotating supercell

In these images note the extensive striations or banding depicted in these images. Unlike the previous storm the banding and rotation extends from the storm base to the base of the anvil. An extensive layer of rotation extends deep into the storm. This is an LP (low precipitation) supercell that's turning into a classic supercell as the rain spreads to the updraft area of the storm. The tail cloud feeds into the bottom of the cell bringing cool moist air from the precipitation area under the anvil. Since the whole storm is a like a rotating mesocyclone the rotation is centered under the updraft. The shearing winds through the atmosphere sculpted the storm into the glazed pottery look that is depicted here. Long before the tornado formed small groups local citizens gathered to watch this sight come together. Note the dust on the far left. That's the updraft area where the strongest rotation is present and where the tornado will form.

The other image is showing a 17 mm wide angle view of the same storm a little earlier. We are viewing the storm looking west. The low level wind and are moving west into the updraft. The midlevel winds sweep around the storm from the southwest, and the upper level winds carry the anvil down stream from the west to east. As the low clouds form and move into the side of the storm they are swept up in the rotation of the complex and spun into a spectacular rotating tower of clouds 60,00 feet high.

funnel sending needle to ground

This image shows a developing tornado as the dust is beginning to rise under the needle of the funnel. The rain is wrapping around the mesocyclone to give the common hook appearance on radar. The photographer is in an area that's surrounded by rain to the north, by west and now southwest. He is in the notch on the radar as it turns into the hook. The storm wraps and spins around the spectator in this vantage point. It's like being in a huge cavern with moving walls. The tornado is only part of the show as the rotating supercell adds to the show.

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