Severe convective storms over Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic (30 May 2005)

by Jochen Kerkmann, Gordon Bridge (EUMETSAT), Piotr Struzik (IMGW), Martin Setvak and Petr Novak (CHMI)

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On 30 May 2005, following the first hot spell of weather, a number of severe storms developed in Central Europe within a ridge of warm air that extended from Northern Italy to Poland (maximum surface temperature up to 34°C). In Poland (near Krakow) three persons were killed by falling trees. There were 450 calls to the Fire Service during 30 May and the following night. In many cities and villages roofs were severely damaged or even blown away and close to Wroclaw electric train wires were damaged. As a result, trains were  dalayed up to 6 hours. Trams in Southern Wroclaw were completely brought to a halt due to fallen trees across the streets. In Krzyzowice four large high voltage electricity pylons were blown over. Many medium voltage transmission lines were partially damaged, especially in the regions of Olesnica nad Sroda Slaska.

The upper two images presented below (and the corresponding animations) show the inital phase of the development, whereas the lower pair of images show the situation in the late afternoon. The first severe storms developed around 11:00-12:00 UTC over the Czech Republic, in the area north and south of Prague (see cloud development as observed from Prague). Both, the low cloud top temperatures of around -73°C and the small ice particles (indicated by the yellowish colour in the RGB composite) indicate that the updrafts in these storms must have been very strong (see also Radiosounding Prague, 12:00 UTC, 12 KB, source: Deutscher Wetterdienst) with significant overshooting of the tops into the stratosphere. Of particular interest is the formation of several "ring" structures within the cloud tops, most likely created by the building of a dome-like structure with a central area somewhat warmer than the edges. This central warmer area could be the result of the highest part of the dome reaching thermal equilibrium with the surrounding, warmer stratospheric air aftter approximately 15-30 minutes.  Examples of such a development can be clearly seen over Poland (between 14:15 and 17:15 UTC) and also over Austria (between 16:15 and 17:15 UTC).  The storm over Poland has all the appearances of a so-called supercell. A very unusual feature can be seen over this supercell at 17:15 UTC whereby a plume of cloud appears to emanate from the dome and streams away in a northerly direction. In the HRV image, because of the low elevation of the sun at this time of the day, there is strong illumination on the western side of the plume and a clear shadow cast onto the dome to the east. Inspection of the NIR1.6 image indicates that the plume is comprised of small ice particles.

  Meteosat-8 Images
  Met-8, 30 May 2005, 12:15 UTC
  Channel 09 (IR10.8)
Full Resolution (390 KB)
Close-up Look (138 KB)
Animation (08:00-18:00 UTC, MPG, 5998 KB)
Zoom Animation (10:30-12:15 UTC, AVI, 7122 KB)
  Met-8, 30 May 2005, 12:15 UTC
RGB Composite
WV6.2-WV7.3, IR3.9-IR10.8, NIR1.6-VIS0.6

Full Resolution (399 KB)
Animation (08:00-16:00 UTC, MPG, 4833 KB)
Zoom Animation (10:30-12:15 UTC, AVI, 7122 KB)
See also:
  Met-8, 30 May 2005, 17:15 UTC
  Channel 09 (IR10.8)
Full Resolution (496 KB)
Channel 03 (NIR1.6, 382 KB)
  Met-8, 30 May 2005, 17:15 UTC
  Channel 12 (HRV)
Full Resolution (596 KB)
Close-up Look (391 KB)

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