There are three types of supercell thunderstorms: Classic supercells, HP (high precipitation) supercells, and LP (low precipitation supercells). Low level moisture and the value of precipitable water (PW) strongly determines which type of supercell a severe thunderstorm will be. LP supercells in the U.S. primarily occur in the Lee of the Rockies while HP supercells are common in the Eastern Great Plains and eastward. Classic supercells are most common in the Great Plains. The type of severe weather to expect from each of these supercell types is given below:
LP supercells: (feature Image) STRONG STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS (due to a high amount of evaporative cooling as precipitation evaporates into surrounding low and mid-level dry air). LARGE HAIL (low amount of moisture results in a small water loading of the updraft, low PW values (less than 1.00 inch) allows the updraft to be stronger than it otherwise would have been if PW values were high). I have seen cases were an LP supercell produced baseball size hail and no other precipitation. TORNADOES (tornadoes tend to be weaker in association with LP supercells as compared to other supercell types because the forward flank downdraft and rear flank downdrafts are not as well defined and the storm is higher based). Tornadoes, if they do occur, are very visible due to the light amount of precip. LP supercells tend to be higher based than the other supercell types because air must rise to a higher level in the troposphere in order for condensation to occur.
Classic supercells: Give the best indication of a hook echo on Doppler radar. Classic supercells have varying degrees of hail size, tornado strength, and strength of straight-line wind. CAPE (how unstable the atmosphere is) along with PW, freezing level and elevation determines how large hail will grow. Dry air in the mid-levels (large dewpoint depression) along with moisture in the PBL (high dewpoints) result in strong straight-line wind and convective instability. Strong low level speed and directional shear along with high CAPE form a favorable environment for tornadoes.
HP supercells: Have a kidney bean shaped appearance on Doppler radar. These are often termed rain wrapped supercells. Tornadoes are generally more deadly when they are rain wrapped since their approach is unknown until they are right on top of you. Hail tends to be smaller in association with HP supercells than in association with the other supercell types because:
1) CAPE is reduced due to intense water loading
2) freezing levels tend to be higher and elevations lower in association with HP’s (compare high plains to Southeast U.S.). Strong straight-line winds are not as common with HP’s since moisture extends through a higher depth in the atmosphere. Evaporative cooling and negative buoyancy are lower because the dewpoint depression in the lower and middle troposphere tend to be lower (dewpoints higher).
There are blizzard warnings in place for a good portion of South Dakota, western Nebraska and western Minnesota. Total snow accumulations of 15 to 23 inches and ice accumulations of a light glaze are expected. Winds gusts as high as 50 mph are forecast. This will be the heavy wet type as temps will be in the 30s.
For SW Michigan Wednesday through Friday will bring a mixed bag of interesting weather: storms (mainly Thursday night) , freezing rain, some snow and cooler temps. At this point the models are pointing to the highest snowfall amounts along the I96 corridor.
In case you haven’t noticed I have been slowly adding content to the site: more pages and an updated front page: blog postings are on the top of the page and the local forecasts below where I have more info in tabbed format. I work at trying to present all the formats of computers, tablets and phones to be visually pleasing, however cell phones are frustrating because of their size and formatting for them can create issues for the rest of the devices used. I don’t know how people can use them for stuff other that phone calls 🙄 .
With the storm season coming I want to have enough info in place to provide my users with helpful info….
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