Sometimes a storm can look visually quite mean, but it actually poses little threat to produce a tornado. If a storm is outflow dominant, then it’s odds of producing a tornado go way down.

This is the case no matter how mean a storm looks.

In today’s lesson, we’re going to take a quick look at a storm in Kansas on April 19, 2017 to discern if its got what it takes to produce a tornado.

This particular storm certainly looks quite mean. But is it going to produce a tornado?

Don’t read the next line if you don’t like spoilers.

Spoiler: nope.

So what gives? There’s some pretty mean structuring to this storm on the low levels. However, the storm is outflow dominant.

Inflow? Outflow?

We need to make a video on this. Ahem.

Inflow is air being ‘sucked’ into a storm. Outflow is air being blown out and away from a storm.

Easy enough right?

How To Tell If A Storm is Outflow Dominant

  1. I’ve always found that the presence of cloud tags in the low levels either remaining still or blowing away from a precipitation core to be a sure sign of some outflow and stable air. These usually form and move away from an updraft when cool air from the storm’s core is blowing out and meeting warm/moist air of the ambient environment.
  2. The presence of a shelf cloud is usually a good sign there’s outflow going on with a storm. If you are confused about shelf clouds, I recommend starting here.
A conceptual look at how this storm is behaving and what to look for to see if a storm is outflow dominant.

A conceptual look at how this storm is behaving and what to look for to see if a storm is outflow dominant.

Check out our other storm anatomy diagrams to see more storms in motion and to learn storm structure and behavior.