Big Afternoon Hail

At 2:30 this afternoon I was preparing to do a severe weather cut-in for large hail in Northeastern Connecticut when a tornado warning was issued. The storm was rotating fast a little more than a mile above our heads but closer to the ground the rotation was fairly minimal.

NBC Connecticut Chief Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan explains that while there was rotation at higher altitudes in a storm on Friday, stability at lower altitudes kept the rotation from reaching the ground.

The atmosphere supported rotating thunderstorms today. We were forecasting hail with a brief surge in elevated instability and strong wind shear. As a storm spins an enhanced "updraft" develops which helps hail stones grow larger and larger. 

Radar shows strong rotation about 6,700 feet above the ground near exit 69 in Willington. While rotation was strong up here the rotation was quite limited below that (as seen from the Boston radar). Which the elevated rotation and storm was able to produce large hail it was incapable of producing a tornado with a stable layer of air in the lowest mile of the atmosphere.

So why no tornado? The storm wasn't anchored near the ground. This storm was elevated - basically it was feeding off instability around a mile up. The atmosphere near the ground was very stable which would preclude tornado development - and also preclude strong winds from mixing to the ground. Hail, on the other hand, just has to rely on gravity. Gravity exists whether the air is stable or unstable so the hail stones fell to the ground readily and pelted Tolland, Stafford, and Willington. 

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