Spectacular Supercell Phenomena Besides The Tornado


At the risk that this has been brought up before, I thought it might be interesting to take a survey of everyone's most memorable phenomenon(a) associated with a supercell outside of tornadoes. With as many new Stormtrack members as there are now, this might be very interesting.


I'll break the ice: Supercell split and then supercell merger (before two tornadoes): June 11, 2003, Rock County, NE. (Too bad I do not have video of this). Witnessed two close proximity LP supercells. Was in between them and they were both rotating to the naked eye. With little precipitation on the back end one, it split with a contorted anticyclonic spinning updraft and a right moving cyclonic updraft. The motions were spectacular. The north end one quickly entrained stable and dry air and died. The right-mover then started to merge with the supercell to the east. Resembling the nondivergent barotropic vortex experiments, the eastern supercell started to filament and wrap around the back end one as an RFD kicked in on the back one (simultaneously). The filamenting supercell merged with the inflow band of the western one. The connecting inflow band of the merging cells started to convect more and more until the updraft became one rotating beast. At that point, more precipitation started to fall and then a weak tornado developed, which would become known as the Rose, NE tornado. Here's a link to the chase summary with pictures that don't do the experience justice:


2nd experience: One of the best supercell structures I've seen. Note my chase partner took the picture. You might recognize this photograph from the cover of the new AMS Severe Convective Storms text book: Our chase in a state I won't mention so more people don't chase here: But July 5, 2000, put down an F3:


Supercells have so many incredible features, I'd love to hear about some of your experiences:

Most memorable non-tornadic event I've seen with a supercell had to have been seeing an inflow band feeding tremendous amounts of dust into the storm's updraft near Geary OK on 5/29/2004.
This is tough - there have been several that stand out. July 24, 2002 in NW Missouri/SE Nebraska is still one of the favorites. In between two massive supercells, each with incredible rotation ... light from the setting sun and some great lightning as we sat in between these sisters. Yankton, SD in August of that year was also quite a nice supe. After the storms on the 29th of this year stopped producing tornadoes, the structure was also pretty amazing.
I love being far enough away from a storm yet having a clear enough view of the storm to watch the mesocyclone sit and turn. Had a great chance for half an hour on May 24 in NE Kansas just south of Marysville. It was quiet except for the 30+ chasers who were alongside of us. Just the southern Kansas breeze feeding into this monster about 20 miles to our west, and to just see the storm slowly rotating was amazing.

I also love watching updrafts break the cap, particularly on days with CAPEs in excess of 4000 J/Kg or so. My favorite updraft was in Hastings, NE, on June 22, 2003. The storm went from a benign cu field to two explosive monsters in minutes, and seeing the power of the atmosphere in action that day was amazing. Of course, I'm glad I didn't see the volleyball sized hail as we made our way through Aurora!
I always enjoy the overshooting top...I find it fun to watch them go up and down (why? 'cause I'm an idiot).

Outflow features are of course fun to watch.

Recently though, I viewed a scud bomb on some day in June (low topped supercells throughout OK). I was impressed that nobody in Moore or S OKC reported it as a tornado. It was really impressive. I'll try to find the picture I took of it.

And on 5/29 me and my chase partnerns watched a left split do really weird stuff which we still have not figured out: the base looked cyclonic while the mid and upper parts were anticyclonic (as to be expected). We have reviewed to video about 9 times and still cannot tell what is occuring. The split eventually collided with another storm in a very unphotogenic and boring way.
The June 13 Midland, MI tail cloud speaks for itself. It's my aviator I loved it so much! :D

Look at how HUGE that thing is!
Chris --

We did get a beautiful tornado from the Aurora storm just after it moved NE of the town. But by that point, I don't think any of us cared about getting a tornado because of all the beauty we had seen in the previous two hours, so it was just icing on the cake. There was so much more to that day than the 30 seconds in which we could see the wedge around the precipitation. I would actually say the updrafts, storm motions, and the lightning-illuminated wall cloud to anvil top storm near Crete at 10 PM were more enjoyable and rewarding than seeing the tornado that day.

Early in the storm (around 6 PM), the storm had a vicious wall cloud and at one point developed a large funnel over the town of Giltner. I was actually glad that the storm decided to wait.

I also remember the traffic jam on Highway 34 as we were getting east. What a day that was...
I've never been great at finding tornadoes so I have to be happy with the various things supercells can do. 2004 of course is everyone's tornado exception(for the most part). Anyway I've never seen anything like what the storm in ne NE did May 28th this year.


Just realized I never grabbed any stills from video for the web site from this day and didn't shoot too many stills of the most incredible part. Here is one still from the time frame though. The inflow was so incredible, mostly the inflow you could tell was going on at the cloud base level. It formed this amazingly smooth surface that stretched outward and slowly up. Howling winds through the electric wires above. All this INFLOW and it seemed to dump it in one very defined location with a perfect vertical wall of visible precip. I've seen a good deal of chase vids and can't say I've ever seen anything like what this was doing. I think anyone that sees this vid for the first time will say, "what the hell". I still say it. It was sort of like a strong beavertail but it was covering the whole ne-se gap to the east of the storm. You just get this really obvious idea of what is happening inflow wise into some of these storms seeing what it's doing with this extremely smooth yet slightly layered area of strange looking clouds. Well anyway, pretty sure that is the most unique supercell I've ever seen(then again it seems they are always unique and amazing).


I will cast my vote with those who mention powerful inflow. I was on the May 29 storm near Geary and the inflow on that storm (and on the earlier one northwest of there) was very impressive. However, the most awesome inflow I have ever seen was on the May 6, 2003 HP supercell in eastern MO. I was on this storm near Union, MO and the inflow was incredible - actually rather frightening, particularly given the heavily wooded nature of that area. I was in an open spot to view the storm, but worried about what the storm might do to the trees along my escape route. The cloud structure above me was much like what Mike describes above - it was like the whole sky was a beavertail directly above me, as the inflow drove the cloud base above me rapidly westward into the supercell.