Some Notes on Chasing a Twister – A Storm Anatomy Guide

Tornadoes are the ultimate catch for storm chasers and the ultimate piece of any severe weather season. But they’re rare — which is another thing all to itself.

If you are in the midst of a developing tornadoes, here are some things we look for to indicate a storm is about to produce a tornado — also a relevant safety tip from this specific example that should be noted for anyone who wants to ‘get close’.

A few relevant tips:

1)Any area of persistent/strong rotation should be watched for tornado formation. This is especially true with laminar/lowering funnel clouds.

2)The clear slot is a prime indicator a storm is trying to wrap up to produce a tornado. This doesn’t always mean a tornado will occur, but it does mean ‘heads up’ as storms cycle through their processes.

3)Just because you think you are in a safe place, if you are underneath a rotating mesocyclone in a storm, you may or may not be safe. In this instance the tornado actually forms ‘behind’ the funnel cloud, which could be a deadly mistake if you are thinking a tornado will form directly underneath a funnel.

Stay safe out there friends…

When Storms Get Together: Storm Interactions and Tornado Potential

Today’s storm diagram deals with what happens when two storms get together — aka when a supercell interacts with another storm.

This storm is from June 1, 2019 just west of Roswell, New Mexico.

The situation is as follows: a storm to the south has thrown outflow northwards towards our supercell. I am making sure I keep the storm in my sights because this type of interaction has led to tornadoes many times in my career.

Especially on marginal days, storm interactions can make the difference between meh and wow!

You’ll gradually see the outflow move from left to right through the screen and as the outflow briefly interacts with our updraft the whole base lowers and spins quite rapidly. As the outflow pushes through, the storm’s base rises and the tornado threat drops quickly (and the storm promptly dies).

Three Key Takeaways

1)Never sleep on a supercell when it begins interacting with another storm.

2)The window during a storm interaction is brief and things are chaotic.

3)Oftentimes this will mean an end to tornado chances, at least short term.