What Is The Smallest Recorded Supercell?

I seen a thread here questioning about the largest...so I am asking, what is the smallest ever known supercell? Mini-sups are common in the Upper Midwest; so does anybody know the SMALLEST known supercell in terms of width, length or diameter?

..Nick..
 
Good day all,

Here is a small one too, near Hays, kansas back in May of 2003...

d3b2e04651eabac0fc3adfb0772ce574.jpg

Above: Base of the "zero-P" storm.

98d31edea1fbaef5588528445e9cffe6.jpg

Above: This entire cloud column was rotating + highly sheared.
 
Question about the "zero-P supercell". Is it truly a supercell? Wouldn't a true supercell have to have a sustained updraft and downdraft? Is there any indication the storm had a sustained downdraft? Was the updraft sustained for a significant amount of time?
 
This was back in 2002. I chased this mini supercell across 3 counties in Wisconsin. NWS was about to issue a tor warn for this storm based on radar until they found out I had a good eye on it and would tell them if anything was happening. As SOON as the sun dropped behind the horizon and the storm lost daytime heating, it rapidly disolved to nothing, but as this process occured, you could see a funnel appear. It didnt lower out of the cloud. It was already IN the cloud, and when the outter parts of the updraft evaporated, it became visible. There are better pictures of another tiny storm in Wisconsin somewhere from this same day. Chris Gullikson was on that storm.

The pics dont seem to show, here are links...

http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/bdsc.jpg

http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/fun3.JPG

[Broken External Image]:http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/bdsc.jpg

[Broken External Image]:http://www.dougraflikphotography.com/fun3.JPG

Doug Raflik
 
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I can see where there would be issues in terms of what is and isn't a supercell, though there should be little question on this one. This is the smallest supercell I have seen, though this is later in its life as it was spining itself to death. This is the storm that produced the tornado south of woodward on May 4th 2007, just as this one was dieing the Greensburg storm was erupting, in fact I'm not so sure that isn't the Greensburg storm getting going in the background. It may look harmless, but where I took this picture there were golfballs on the ground... My avatar is the same storm earlier in its life

c1be91a4f2e12daad07bbc942ce77bb2.jpg
 
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April 2006 C IL, we grow em' small round here...

[Broken External Image]:http://pawleewurx.com/st/002.jpg

Talk about sustained updraft, it basically just parked all the way through dusk. Note: perhaps decieving but this was not a multicell cluster. One up, one down.

Forget the date but pretty sure John Farley remembers this day, lotsa hailers.

Edit: referencing Scott's reply, if a supercell is a single rotating updraft, then at what point does the updraft lose the "updraft" and earn status as "supercell"? Would the descriptive change be one measured scientifically or determined visually?
 
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In the UK, winter-time showers and thunderstorms often occur in regions of high wind shear, and sometimes produce tornadoes and relatively large hail. Given our lack of publically available Doppler at the moment, it's hard to say whether they have sustained and deep rotation; however, I would think some have. These are usually no more than a few miles across at most.

Remember that it's the behaviour of the storm which classes it as a supercell, and not the size. However, you then get to the sticky area of what conditions should be met to class it as a supercell!
 
Good day,

Question about the "zero-P supercell". Is it truly a supercell? Wouldn't a true supercell have to have a sustained updraft and downdraft? Is there any indication the storm had a sustained downdraft? Was the updraft sustained for a significant amount of time?

I am not sure about even calling this a "supercell" in my post. But we took a time-lapse of it and it was rotating hard. The "cell" was way too small to have any precip core and such, but the rotation of the cloud column was impressive.

I used to have a time-lapse of this cell posted a while back but I have to try to find it. I do have a link to a music video of the chase of 2003, and in the video around position 0:42 seconds in, a brief shot of the timelapse can be seen. (Link is below, requires real-player)...

http://www.sky-chaser.com/m4musvid.htm

The rotation of this cell is very impressive despite it's small size.
 
ZPs....hell yeah...and some of the smallest

Good day,



I am not sure about even calling this a "supercell" in my post. But we took a time-lapse of it and it was rotating hard. The "cell" was way too small to have any precip core and such, but the rotation of the cloud column was impressive.

I used to have a time-lapse of this cell posted a while back but I have to try to find it. I do have a link to a music video of the chase of 2003, and in the video around position 0:42 seconds in, a brief shot of the timelapse can be seen. (Link is below, requires real-player)...

http://www.sky-chaser.com/m4musvid.htm

The rotation of this cell is very impressive despite it's small size.

Dude....that was an awesome little ZP storm. It cork screwed so much. I've got to go back and find the original tape from that and recapture it in different TL speeds. I think the original was at 40fpm. I love that you can see all of us walking around in the foreground.

I also have it as a segment in one of my youtube bits:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlx2hnxuPPM
about 0:10 seconds in. You'll be able to see how small it was. In fact, I don't think it even showed up on radar.

I certainly subscribe to the ZP (zero precipitation) storm...and do believe they are the smallest "supercells" out there.
 
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Jason,
That was unreal. Although I've seen some LP's that were not too big, that one takes the cake. I'm not sure if it was a Supercell, but I tend to think it had all of the ingredients except for size. It definately had a strong updraft and inflow. But did it have RFD or FFD? Or did the minute size of it allow the air that rose to be replaced by air from 1000-800mb? Forgive me if my questions seem stupid, I'm still learning.
 
Good day,

Jason,
That was unreal. Although I've seen some LP's that were not too big, that one takes the cake. I'm not sure if it was a Supercell, but I tend to think it had all of the ingredients except for size. It definately had a strong updraft and inflow. But did it have RFD or FFD? Or did the minute size of it allow the air that rose to be replaced by air from 1000-800mb? Forgive me if my questions seem stupid, I'm still learning.

Jason, thanks for the post / You-Tube link. His time lapse can be seen from 0:15 to 0:23 in the video. Amazing stuff.

Wesley, I was chasing with Jason as well on that storm, along with a group of others (Jeff Gammons, Amos Magliocco, and Steve Miller).

The storm was so small, I'll refer to it as our "ZP" storm, that I am not sure of any RFD / FFD. I have also seen larger "LP" cells, with no evidence of such (RFD / FFD) so maybe there was one of such but too small to discern from our vantage point.

Despite the strong updraft, and amazing horizontal slanting of the updraft from the shear, I think your assumption of air from the 800 / 1000 MB levels being drawn into the cell are correct, negating any downdrafts. Also, lack of precipitation loading will cause a lack of a downdraft, as the entire cell is completely inflow dominant, more so than an LP storm, and nearly steady-state during it's life-cycle, before shrinking.

This storm (or cloud?) was on May 22, 2003 near Studley, Kansas (Sheridan County). It developed in a storm environment marked by high instability (CAPE) and shear, but surface dewpoints barely in the low-mid 50's. Boundary intersections gave the boost to overcome the cap and LFC, but the storm instantly shrunk after the sun got within 5 degrees of the horizon.

Also, a thing to note is that there was another cell (which also appears in Jason's TL video after 0:23) was practically next to the rotating previous "ZP" cell after it weakened and showed almost little or no shear / rotation. I assume a local speed-max or "jet-let" was above the "ZP" storm and not over the new one to it's west afterwards.

Below is my chase log entry for this storm, which can also be found at the link here: http://www.sky-chaser.com/mwcl2003.htm.

May 22, 2003 - 7:30 PM ... Observation of a small but fully rotating LP (and low-topped) supercell storm near Studley, Kansas north of highway 24. This storm was not penetrated but assumed to be a strong thunderstorm. The storm had a tight, LP structure with low-top and rotating low-level meso with the "stacked-Plate" effect, just very small! The storm lasted for about an hour and a half after becoming detached from a multi-cell storm cluster. A 2003 Chevy Blazer was used to chase the storms. Documentation was still photos and a camcorder. Surface heating, a convergence boundary, and high speed / directional shear environment with limited moisture caused the storm. A severe thunderstorm watch was also valid for the area until 11 PM, CDT.

My 2 cents worth,
 
April 2006 C IL, we grow em' small round here...

002.jpg


Talk about sustained updraft, it basically just parked all the way through dusk. Note: perhaps decieving but this was not a multicell cluster. One up, one down.

Forget the date but pretty sure John Farley remembers this day, lotsa hailers.

Edit: referencing Scott's reply, if a supercell is a single rotating updraft, then at what point does the updraft lose the "updraft" and earn status as "supercell"? Would the descriptive change be one measured scientifically or determined visually?

Paul:
I like the definition of a supercell being a storm that possesses a mesocyclone. Thus, it becomes a matter of defining a mesocyclone. I would say it is a deep, persistent, rotating updraft (the Doswell definition)...downdraft not necessary. However, I would think that for prosperity, it would need a downdraft as an exhaust mechanism.
 
At what point does a dying supercell stop being a supercell. These storms got real skinny may 4th last year (just south of the Greensburg storm)
 

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July 29th, 2008......smallest supercell (besides 11/27/05) I've chased....in southern Lyon County, KS. Remenants of Hurricane Dolly provided adequate shear coupled with sufficient CAPE in the lowest 3 km.

c20969b4d2a665e4e2a0100321819d67.jpg

I don't have a radar image of it, however...

More pictures here
 
So while everyone was up in Harper Cty. KS on 12 May 2004, I had to work so I was stuck near home. I was left with this pretty amazing event out near Cordell.

Scenario: Supercell to right of frame, updraft in frame is the left-split from a southern storm.
[Broken External Image]:http://people.aero.und.edu/~kennedya/2004/CHASE-051204/crw_9444_std.jpg

They later merged...
[Broken External Image]:http://people.aero.und.edu/~kennedya/2004/CHASE-051204/crw_9504_std.jpg

[Broken External Image]:http://people.aero.und.edu/~kennedya/2004/CHASE-051204/crw_9526_std.jpg


Probably goes down as the best storm interaction I've seen as of yet...

Full series at:
http://people.aero.und.edu/~kennedya/2004/CHASE-051204/index.html
 
I had this little guy spin up in front of me for about 15-20 minutes before it was blown over by an HP beast to the southeast. (Things were moving N/NW on this day, I am looking due south at it.) It started a little wider and seemed to tighten up as it grew. Off to the right of the image was a long anvil. You can see a couple more sequences of this little guy from the main gallery: http://www.aircrafter.org/boggs/stormchasing/2008-05-22/index.html

[Broken External Image]:http://www.aircrafter.org/boggs/stormchasing/2008-05-22/pictures/IMG_2076_pic.JPG
 
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