Thunderstorm planning with WeatherSpork, Part 3

Part 1 and Part 2 of this three video series showed a window of opportunity to depart Savannah, Georgia during the morning hours between 14Z and 15Z arriving in Charlotte, North Carolina before 17Z.  Was this guidance on the money?  Watch Part 3 of this video series to see how it all played out.  And stop back to this post and read some of the final thoughts below…

As shown below this was a very dangerous weather system that included many tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings up and down the Piedmont regions of North and South Carolina.  The line of relatively low-topped thunderstorms began to impact the Charlotte terminal area around 19Z and that matched the guidance from earlier in the day.

As I mentioned in the video, very strong winds at the surface were possible as heavy rain showers transferred the momentum of that strong low level jet down to the surface.  In fact, the wind gusted to 59 knots (68 mph) at the Charlotte Douglas Airport at 1913Z based on the METAR remarks below.

KCLT 151916Z 21035G59KT 1/4SM +TSRA BR BKN037CB BKN050 OVC065 21/17 A2980 RMK AO2 PK WND 20059/1913 LTG DSNT ALQDS RAB12 TSE01B02 PRESRR FRQ LTGICCCCG SW-W TS SW-W MOV NE P0000 T02110172 RVRNO

You can see in this color-enhanced IR satellite image below two patches of dark blue.  These were coincident with the two tornado warnings (red polygons) shown in the image above.  This satellite depictions shows cloud top temperatures in degrees Celsius.  The colder the temperatures, the higher the cloud tops.  In many cases, these overshooting tops are cells that will exhibit severe characteristics. These two cells within this line of thunderstorms likely spawned a tornado.

These two cells show up as well on the visible satellite (below), although not as good as the IR satellite image given the time of day.  If this occurred during sunset, you would have seen the higher tops cast a shadow on the clouds below. Nevertheless, the red arrows point to those two cells and the orange arrows show their approximate track.  The red X is there I live.   As this southernmost cell moved north-northeast, there was a heavy rain-wrapped circulation that passed through my neighborhood.  The driving heavy rain ended very abruptly as the backside of that cell passed…very typical of these kinds of mesoscale events.

Well I hope this video series was useful.  Feel free to send a link of these videos to all of your pilot friends and post them through your social media accounts or to your favorite aviation forums.

Scott Dennstaedt
Weather Systems Engineer

Scott Dennstaedt

View posts by Scott Dennstaedt
CFI and former NWS research meteorologist. Co-founder of WeatherSpork
Scroll to top