Weather Education – Super-cell Thunderstorms

In this lesson we are going to take a look at super-cell thunderstorms and what they mean and how they impact our daily lives.

First, a super-cell thunderstorm is formed from a cumulus-nimbus cloud.  Super-cell thunderstorms are the most advanced form of thunderstorms known on earth. This is because these types of thunderstorms need so many things to come together in the atmosphere at the same time.

The first thing they need is the warm moist air at or near the surface. Secondly, is the presence of dry air in the middle or at about 10,000ft above the ground, and third there must be strong cold air advection which needs to be found at about 18-20,000ft above the ground.

These three conditions come together most often and at the best time in the early spring over the central part of the United States in the area known as tornado alley. The thing about this type of thunderstorm is that it can form in any region of the United States and has done so in all 50 states.

Some types of weather to expect with this thunderstorm are gusty winds, large hail, heavy rains, and tornadoes. These thunderstorm clouds can extend upwards as high as 45,000ft on any given day.

Image Caption: A super-cell thunderstorm brewing over the plains. Credit: Joshua Kelly Meteorologist Joshua Kelly