Thunderstorm Types. The "intense" updraft storm is almost invariably the supercell, a storm capable of producing the most devastating weather, including violent tornadoes. A supercell is a long-lived (greater than 1 hour) and highly organized storm feeding off an updraft (a rising current of air) that is tilted and rotating. The arrows depict surface winds and downdrafts. This rotating updraft - as large as 10 miles in diameter and up to 50,000 feet tall - can be present as much as 20 to 60 minutes before a tornado forms. With the two multicell storm categories, we have defined four basic storm types from the thunderstorm spectrum. An area of low pressure develops under the single or cluster of storm… The schematic plan views below show how isolated supercell thunderstorms (panel a) appear on radar reflectivity displays in comparison to various bow echo configurations (panels b-d). 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. A better way to classify storms is to base the categories on their actual physical characteristics. The supercell is always severe, whereas the others can be non-severe or severe. There is actually a continuous spectrum of thunderstorm types, but there are four broad categories of storms that will be discussed single cell storms, multicell cluster storms, multicell line storms, and supercell storms. A supercell thunderstorm is characterized by a sustained and powerful rotating updraft (rising air). Hurricanes first start out as a disturbance (general thunderstorm) that moves across warm water sucking up more moisture.
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