Jesse Ferrell

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MCC Leaves Trail of Destruction Through Carolinas

May 11, 2011; 3:30 PM

After a sea-breeze front helped spark severe thunderstorms yesterday evening on the Carolina coasts, a large thunderstorm complex (known as an MCC - Mesoscale Convective Complex) moved over the area, leaving a trail of large hail and wind damage reports from Ohio to the Carolina coast.

Here's what the entire system looked like as it cruised through (wait for it... this is a radar, then radar/sat, then enhanced radar/sat animation, each shown twice):

But of all the hail reports, the most severe came yesterday evening, before the MCC approached. This was when supercell severe thunderstorms broke out on the South Carolina (and southern North Carolina) coasts.

These beasts looked like something out of Tornado Alley and sparked 3 spotter reports of softball-sized hail (4.5 inches in diameter!)

By late in the evening, the supercells had multiplied into what appeared to be a "hand-of-death":

But perhaps most beautiful of all on the weather maps was the MCC. It dropped nearly 70,000 lightning strikes in the Carolina area overnight:

Here's a radar closeup at 2:13 AM, when it began to develop a vortex (MCV):

You can see on the radar/satellite shot that it's really the clouds spreading out, not the rain, that becomes circular in an MCC.

The cloud tops are high, and hence cold, as shown in this enhanced Infrared satellite map:

(The MCC and sea-breeze front classifications were confirmed by NWS).

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About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.