The severe weather season is off to a slow start in terms of tornadoes, hail, and wind reports. Although, the number of storms has increased of late, and this increase will continue as the country sees warmer temperatures and higher humidities for the late spring and summer months.
With such a cool period during May, Colorado and the region haven't had many storms to speak of, let alone strong ones.
One of the strongest formed Sunday in Wyoming. The time-lapse video shows the growth process of the storm, and how it created its own environment in which to live.
That's a big difference between a generic thunderstorm and a supercell, like this one. Supercells are created when a generic storm begins to take on added characteristics.
In the right atmosphere, a strong thunderstorm will begin to rotate. This rotation is a key component to a supercell. It means that the storm has a very well designed updraft (warm humid air entering the storm) and downdraft (cool dry air exiting the storm) this keeps the storm alive and maintaining strength. Just like if you closed chimney flu on a fire, you'd smother the fire with that bad smoky air. A supercell has created an environment that can remove the bad air, and draw in the fuel for the storm.
Supercells that maintain that updraft and downdraft will begin to develop very large hail. The rotation of the storm becomes stronger as well and that can lead to tornado development.
Although the storm in Wyoming did not produce a tornado, hail was evident. Had that supercell had higher temperatures and greater humidity to work with it could have potentially produced a tornado. The time-lapse video definitely shows the rotation of the thunderstorm (again, rotation classifies strength and "supercell status") and how the lower clouds react to that rotation.
Over the coming weeks, and potentially in just a few days, we will have another round of widespread severe weather over the plains states. This will include Colorado. Supercells are likely to develop, and that'll mean we have a higher chance for damaging hail, wind, and tornadoes.