Every once in a while a video surfaces that makes you appreciate the true power of Mother Nature! The amazing video above is one of them.... This supercell in motion was captured in Booker, TX by videographer Mike Oblinksi.
Even though thunderstorms may seem chaotic on the ground, they actually operate like very organized machines. Oblinski managed to capture a great portrait in the video above, of how these types of storms evolve and the different mechanisms that drive them.
What makes a thunderstorm severe?
Supercells are among the most powerful severe weather makers, spawning everything from tornadoes, to large hail, damaging wind, and sometimes flooding. Because of their rotating updrafts these storms can far outlive your garden variety storm. In order to get a supercell thunderstorm, you must have the following four factors in place:
*moisture in the atmosphere
*change in wind direction with height (vertical wind sheer)
*and finally, some sort of trigger mechanism (cold front, dry line, mountains, etc.)
The thing that separates a supercell from its counterparts is the rotating updraft, or mesocyclone. This is the mechanism that drives the whole machine and determines how strong it can be. Stronger updrafts typically result in more intense rain and larger hail. In supercells, updraft speeds can reach up to 150mph to 175mph!
The rotation kicks in when rising air (updraft) meets veering wind (turns clockwise with height) and thus the whole column of air is twisted. As the moist air rises, water droplets begin to condense and once the individual drops become heavier than the updraft can sustain, voila! You have rain. As rain falls, it drags air down with it, creating what's known as the downdraft. This is where the heaviest precipitation is found.
While supercells are often associated with violent weather, namely tornadoes, only 30% or less actually put down a twister. 90% on the other hand have been known to produce some type of severe weather.
Parts of a supercell:
(definitions via weatherunderground)