METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
A supercell is an intense thunderstorm that has a mesocyclonic circulation. They tend to be long lived since the updraft and downdraft are
in separate regions of the storm. They can produce heavy rain, hail, strong convective wind gusts, vivid lightning and tornadoes. They are
a significant weather changer due to the damage they can produce. They can bring flash flooding rain, hail large enough to do damage to
cars and roofs, wind gusts that can damage structures and tornadoes that can produce significant damage. The strongest tornadoes are
produced by supercells.
Supercells are of great interest due to the damage and loss of life they can produce. Severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings are commonly
issued when a supercell develops. A supercell can change the weather from stormy to tragic in seconds. These are storms that are
important to take cover from.
Supercells are most common in spring and early summer when there is the greatest combination of instability, moisture, wind shear and
lifting mechanisms. Instability is created by warm surface temperatures with cooler air high aloft. Moisture is transported in from
evaporation from warm ocean water. Wind shear is supplied by fronts, convergence boundaries, low pressure systems and the jet stream.
Lifting mechanisms are supplied by low level warm air advection, surface convergence boundaries and upper level divergence. Supercells
are the storms that inspire storm spotters and storm chasers since incredible photos and videos can be obtained of these storms.