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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Supercell thunderstorms with three inch hail and tornadic signatures hit Hawaii


( - An event so rare is happening in Hawaii now that it has to be documented. A true Supercell thunderstorm bringing three inch hail to Eastern Oahu Island in Hawaii formed on Friday morning.
Usually when you think of supercells you think of the Great Plains of the United States, where cold / dry Canadian air meets with warm / moist air off the Gulf of Mexico. This setup produces supercells; with violent tornadoes, if ingredients are right.

But Oahu is experiencing a supercell with the look of one that would travel Tornado Alley. Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin weighs in.

"This is very rare for Hawaii to have this type of supercell," said Martin. "This has a classic hook echo and even rotation with a possible tornado touchdown with it. The ingredients came together perfectly as an upper level low to the west of the Islands provided the cold mid-level atmosphere over the tropical warm low level layer. This combined with strong upper level divergence to set thunderstorms off. A strong mid-level jet was not present, but some low level jet dynamics coming into surface low to the south of Hawaii did and created the low level rotation."

Hawaii is a blind spot for severe weather forecasts due to the lack of atmospheric modeling done in the area. Events like this are rare.

According to Martin, the atmosphere will continue to have thunderstorms through Saturday with calming next week as a returning normal trade wind pattern sets in. 

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