So far this year in Manitoba we haven’t had the warm temperatures needed for thunderstorms, never mind severe thunderstorms with tornadoes. Farther south there have been some killer tornadoes over the central and southern U.S. This week we’ll continue our look at tornadoes and severe summer weather, but instead of me rambling on and giving you a technical breakdown of tornadoes – how they form, what to look for, safety, et cetera – I am going to use a series of amazing pictures that were sent to me a long time ago. By the way, I will still be doing a detailed article about tornadoes, so you’re not off the hook!
In this picture we see a classic textbook example of an approaching thunderstorm. This is a super cell thunderstorm. You can see the
central area of convection with the nice smooth band of cloud in the middle of the picture. The low clouds pushing out in front of the storm are a result of the outflow of air from the storm. This outflow of air helps to lift the warm air surrounding the storm as it is being pulled in. You couldn’t help but be nervous seeing this storm coming.
Here we see another perfect textbook example, but this time it is of a wall cloud. You can easily see how it gets its name. A large portion of the thunderstorm
has lowered significantly compared to the rest of the storm. The little tails of clouds on each side of the wall cloud are again showing the rapid inflow of air into the storm. This whole cloud formation will often be rotating and it is from this feature that you expect to see a tornado form.
Tornado! While the tornado in this picture has yet to become fully visible from the parent cloud to the ground, you can already see the effects
of the tornado on the ground. You can see the swirling taking place at ground level, indicating that the funnel cloud has now extended to the ground and become a tornado. As with a large majority of tornadoes, they often form outside of the main rain area of the thunderstorm.
In this final image we see a beautiful example of a green thunderstorm. While seeing the other images in Manitoba is pretty rare, this type of thunderstorm is a little more common in our area. Personally, I have yet to read of any definitive reason for the green colour. Research has shown it is not simply the reflection of green vegetation but is more likely the effect of sunlight being scattered and refracted by large amounts of water and ice within the storm. With green thunderstorms, one thing is almost always a sure bet: you’re going to get torrential rains and/or severe hail. So if you see a green storm coming, take cover!