Supercells are long-lived thunderstorms which exhibit quasi-steady structure including a rotating updraft. These storms generally produce severe weather including heavy winds, large hail, heavy rainfall, and occasionally tornadoes. In fact it is these supercells that produce the strongest and longest-lived tornadoes.

Photo by Moller

With the danger that supercells pose, it is wise to learn more about the nature of their origin and evolution. By discovering how supercell behavior is related to the surrounding environment, meteorologists can help predict when and where such storms will actually occur -- with the ultimate goal of saving lives. While real supercells like the one in the photograph above continue to occur, computer model visualizations like the one below are being used to advance our understanding and prediction of these terrible storms.

Visualization by NCSA/Wilhelmson
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Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.