Single Cell Thunderstorms
also known as pulse thunderstorms

Single cell storms typically do not produce severe weather and usually last for 20-30 minutes. Also known as pulse storms, single cell storms seem quite random (perhaps because of our lack of understanding) in the production of brief severe events such as downbursts, hail, some heavy rainfall, and occasional weak tornadoes.

The "degree of predictability" is extremely low as forecasters are never quite sure which storm will produce severe weather and from which portion of that storm the severe events will occur. However, the microburst threat to aviation cannot be over-emphasized.

Photograph by: NSSL

This is a single cell storm, looking east from about 15 miles. The storm was moving east (into the photo). Some of the anvil cloud has been left behind the storm, but the greater portion of the anvil is blowing off in advance of the storm and is not observable from this perspective. (May storm in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo.)

Photograph by: Moller

True single cell storms are relatively rare since even the weakest of storms usually occur as multicell updraft events. Some single cell thunderstorms are called "air mass" storms. This late May storm in Oklahoma, looking northeast from about 20 miles, occurred with weak to moderate vertical wind shear. It did not produce any severe weather.

Types of T-storms
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Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.