Research

Simulating Thunderstorms

With today’s supercomputing power, it’s possible to simulate entire thunderstorms to study how and why some of them can spawn deadly tornadoes. The animation above comes from a computer simulation of a supercell thunderstorm. The simulation uses initial conditions from a 2011 storm that produced an EF-5 tornado – the highest category of tornado, based on its wind speeds. To see more of the simulation, check out the video below. One thing that might surprise you is just how enormous the towering supercell clouds are compared to the tornado produced in the simulation. Often what we can see of a storm from the ground is only the tiniest part of what goes into producing it. (Image credit: L. Orf et al., source; GIF via @popsci; video credit: UWSSEC)

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