The Washington Post

Twisting, turning explosive storms

I’ve encountered some great images that show off both the explosiveness and rotation of the storms that cycled through the region Thursday.

Look at this image, taken from near Wallops Island, Va:

This remarkable structure is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  NASA offers this explanation:

This appears to be a mixture of scud and a “roll cloud.” Roll clouds are kind of rare. The outflow from the parent storm gets out ahead of the storm a little bit and is moving faster on the bottom than the air just above it. This causes the air along the top edge of the outflow to form a horizontal tube of spinning air and cloud forms horizontally where the air is rising within the tubes. It looks like there are rolls that have helped to “organize” the scud.

For a loftier view of the storms that produced this wondrous cloud formation, see this high resolution satellite animation, courtesy CIMSS Satellite Blog:

It stitches together over 150 images from the GOES-14 satellite, 22,000 miles above the Earth, which was in its “rapid-scan” mode to monitor the storms, taking pictures every minute.

Notice how the line of the storms erupted over central Virginia, with the most widespread vigorous activity just missing the D.C. area.

Correction: A photograph originally published in this post showing three vortices, allegedly in Columbia, Md. yesterday, according to a NASA website, apparently was not taken in Columbia. The photo was from Dupree, South Dakota, taken on June 16, 2010.

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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