Smallest LP supercell on record?

Good day everyone,

I remember this interesting storm back in 2003 in May in west-central Kansas near Hill City. It was developing on a boundary but was moisture-starved in a 500+ helicity environment...

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I assume this is about as small a supercell (if you want to call it that) can get?

Chris Collura - KG4PJN
 
That video brings up a question :)

Can you have a supercell thunderstorm without lightning? I suppose it would be a supercell storm without the thunder on the storm?

How rare are tornadoes without thunder and lightning? I realize that in hurricanes you can easily have tornadoes...but outside of tropical systems?

Nice video :)
 
Can you have a supercell thunderstorm without lightning? I suppose it would be a supercell storm without the thunder on the storm?
I've seen actually something supercell-like without thunder. It happened on 3 September 2006 and I have also some pictures of it. I saw shelf cloud and so-called whale's mouth that time...
 
"How rare are tornadoes without thunder and lightning?"

Not rare at all outside of the alley... I'd estimate that maybe 1/3rd of all the MI tornadoes are lightning-less, all of which are F0 tops.
 
on april 14th 2001 in pratt kansas i was one of the few*like 2 %* of chasers that stayed in kansas and didnt go to oklahoma, that saw the large tornadoes and throughout the whole trip from pratt to wichita i didnt see one flash of lightning or hear thunder although i did get pelted with golfball sized hail......a secondary line of storms formed 75 miles back to the west and hit us on the way home and it was loaded with lightning....kinda odd
 
Pretty common for the Plains...particularly the High Plains. The small size can sometimes fool you though. I remember a real good case of this out by Plainview TX one late May day. The storm had no visible precip core and was not more than 1-2 miles wide at the most. We were downshear of the updraft and soon very intermittent baseballs started falling. In 30 mins. this little ole' LP storm went on to produce 3 tornadoes as deeper moisture moved up the Caprock later that evening. I'll post a pic of one similar but weaker storm I saw in C.Kansas before the hell cap sizzled it.
 
The 6-7-2005 Kadoka, SD supercell was pretty small in size when it dropped a tornado out of nowhere it seemed. The shot below is roughly 15 minutes prior to tornadogenesis. The updraft was even smaller when we first intercepted it. At this time, the storm wasn't even SVR-warned. I think the storm would have dropped additional tornadoes if boundary layer SRH was stronger then it was (IIRC, 0-1km SRH was 50-75 j/kg across much of the area).

During this period, the storm was dropping hail larger than softballs.

6-7-2005-lg-5543
 
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The 6-7-2005 Kadoka, SD supercell was pretty small in size when it dropped a tornado out of nowhere it seemed. The shot below is roughly 15 minutes prior to tornadogenesis. The updraft was even smaller when we first intercepted it. At this time, the storm wasn't even SVR-warned. I think the storm would have dropped additional tornadoes if boundary layer SRH was stronger then it was (IIRC, 0-1km SRH was 50-75 j/kg across much of the area).

During this period, the storm was dropping hail larger than softballs.

6-7-2005-lg-5543
wow was this the only storm around right now? cuz for a small updraft thats a huge anvil canopy haha and a pretty sweet inflow band! nice shot! i bet you did a double take to see a tornado drop out of this baby!
 
It was the dominating updraft of two cells. There was another small updraft to the east, but that got choked off quickly by this storm... After tornadogenesis, the storm rapidly intensified on radar (and went from a small, near-precipless blob to a classic "flying eagle" shape with a pronounced V-notch and hook echo/RFD in just a few scans). If low-level SRH was stronger, then the storm likely would have dropped more tornadoes (but it had problems balancing it's own outflow much of it's life).

Yeah, I was pretty surprised to see it drop... I remember looking over my shoulder and thinking how defined the wall cloud had gotten, and a tornado rapidly formed afterwards. I'm not sure who first said "tornado!" in the car... But I'm thinking it was Dan Robinson who first noticed.

This was another extremely small LP supercell... Unfortunetly, there was no tornadoes from the storm, given the extremely horrible thermodynamic setups in May 2006 that resulted in unfavorable LCL/LFCs. Nonetheless, at the time this shot was taken, it was dropping golfball-sized hail in Bismark (the city lights can be seen in the far distant horizon).

5-27-2006-7772.jpg
 
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Well then that raises the next question...

A supercell thunderstorm with a tornado can not be called a thunderstorm unless there is lightning and thunder. That would be correct?

Interesting...
 
Well then that raises the next question...

A supercell thunderstorm with a tornado can not be called a thunderstorm unless there is lightning and thunder. That would be correct?

Interesting...


So, such an event would be a supercell shower. Well, perhaps not:

AMS Glossary said:
supercell—An often dangerous convective storm that consists primarily of a single, quasi-steady rotating updraft, which persists for a period of time much longer than it takes an air parcel to rise from the base of the updraft to its summit (often much longer than 10–20 min).
--> http://amsglossary.allenpress.com/glossary/search?id=supercell1

"storm" is short of thunderstorm, which, if one takes that as the def'n of a "supercell", means that a supercell must be accompanied by thunder/lightning if it is to be a supercell.
 
That video brings up a question :)

Can you have a supercell thunderstorm without lightning? I suppose it would be a supercell storm without the thunder on the storm?

How rare are tornadoes without thunder and lightning? I realize that in hurricanes you can easily have tornadoes...but outside of tropical systems?

Nice video :)

Lightning production requries a convective updraft of some vigor (approaching 10 m/s IIRC) as well as sufficiently cold EL temps (-20C works very well operationally as a threshold) to result in graupel and charge separation. The latter condition is present in the majority of environments wherein a supercellular storm is observed via visual/radar observation; a few of these mini-supercell cool season setups are one exception to the rule. As for the strength of the convective updraft, that is a little tougher... being a function of CAPE, vertical shear, water loading, entrainment, etc.

I've been on a couple tornadic supercells during which I personally observed no lightning or thunder whatsoever (including the KCK F4); however, I can "bet" lightning was being generated somewhere by the storm. On this note, with these smaller LP structures.. even if no lightning or thunder is observed, I'm not sure you could necessarily state it was definitively not occurring at all.... which would be a problem if that was what you wanted to use as part of your basis for whether it was a "thunderstorm" and thus a "supercell."

On a somewhat related note, when I hear "brief supercell" it always seems like an oxymoron to me.. but I understand what a person means when they use this terminology and have in the past been tempted to use such terminology myself. The pretty very-LP structures on the high plains seem the most problematic in this regard w.r.t. attempting to classify them.
 
I have seen a really small LP supercell on May 10, 2003 when I went outside my house. However, I think it was slightly bigger than the one Chris C saw a bit later that month. (sorry, no pictures since I don't have a camera.)
 
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