In Brief

Supercell Thunderstorm Grows in Stunning Time-Lapse (Video)

Storm chasers captured stunning footage of a supercell, or rotating thunderstorm, churning above northeastern Wyoming over the weekend.

The time-lapse video, stitched together by a group called Basehunters, spans about an hours' drive from Wright to Newcastle, Wyoming, on Sunday (May 18), the creators said in their video description. The two-minute clip shows a mass of ominous gray clouds billowing upwards in a corkscrew-like fashion before dissipating.

Supercells are characterized by rotating updrafts, called mesocyclones, which can attain speeds over 100 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Nearly all of the significant tornadoes produced in the U.S. spawn from supercells. Scientists don't understand why some mesocyclones produce twisters and others don't. No funnel clouds grew from the storm that was filmed on Sunday.

Supercells can also produce flooding, extreme winds and huge chunks of hail, sometimes larger than golf balls. Rotating thunderstorms most commonly occur in the central United States, but they can form anywhere. A supercell in March 2012 dropped a record-setting chunk of hail on Oahu. The ball of ice measured 4.25 inches long, 2.25 inches tall and 2 inches wide (10.8 by 5.7 by 5 centimeters), the biggest ever found in Hawaii.

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Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.