Wild Weather


Thunderstorms - II

Overshooting Tops & Anvil

The trademark of a strong cumulonimbus cloud is the overshooting top, a "cauliflower-like" cloud structure extending above the anvil of the storm like a dome. Overshooting tops locate the strongest updraft in a thunderstorm and the place where severe weather is most likely to develop at the surface.

A National Weather Service meteorologist with warning responsibility for a particular area could issue a severe thunderstorm warning based on a visible satellite image alone if an overshooting top was present. By combining this image with satellite sounder data, a tornado warning might be deemed more appropriate.