Watch a Cloud Supercell Form in This Time-Lapse Video 

May 20, 2014

A few days ago in Wyoming, swirling clouds came together in a kind of half-tornado. Instead of spinning down to the ground, it ended suddenly in a flat mass that spat out heavy rains and hail. It was a “supercell,” and this time-lapse video shows exactly how it was formed.

Supercells are sometimes called “rotating thunderstorms”—they’re one of the most severe types of thunderstorms in the world. Their spinning, which is clearly visible in the video, sets them apart. Horizontal wind starts the air spinning, then an updraft angles the spin upwards. Then the updraft gets caught up in the spinning column to turn the whole cloud mass into a slightly less dangerous version of a tornado.

Thankfully, Basehunters, a group of weather-chasers, got close enough to shoot the video so we didn’t have to.

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