DISCUSSION: As strong to severe thunderstorms erupted once again today across parts of Western to Central Europe, some of these storms moved through atmospheric environments characterized by particularly high vertical wind shear (i.e., a change in the direction and/or the speed in the wind with increasing height in the atmosphere) as well as high convective instability (which supported the generation of very strong updrafts). As the storms encountered this stronger vertical wind shear as well as the stronger convective instability, this favored the development of discrete (and fairly photogenic) storms with the potential for tornadic development.
One such example is included in the video below (courtesy of Anja Horn) where an isolated, rotating storm formed near Wiehl, Germany and eventually generated a tornado. As you can clearly see in the footage below, there were several points during the tornado's existence during which you can clearly identify the presence of a number of very small-scale features which are scientifically referred to as suction vortices. Suction vortices are smaller funnels which are embedded within the larger parent tornado funnel and often cause the most violent destruction within the tornado. If you look closely, you can see how the suction vortices actually appear to "dance" around the periphery of the tornado as a result of the differential wind field changing within the confines of the parent tornado. This is certainly a classic example of very small-scale convectively-associated features causing havoc on society. To learn more about other high-impact weather events from across Europe, be sure to click here!