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Field Guide Glossary


Convective outlook issued by the SPC . Abbreviation for Anticipated Convection; the term originates from the header coding [ACUS1] of the transmitted product. See SWODY1, SWODY2.
ACCAS (usually pronounced ACK-kis)
AltoCumulus CAStellanus; mid-level clouds (bases generally 8,000 to 15,000 feet / 2,400 to 4,500 m), of which at least a fraction of their upper parts show cumulus-type development. These clouds often are taller than they are wide, giving them a turret-shaped appearance. ACCAS clouds are a sign of instability aloft, and may precede the rapid development of thunderstorms.
Accessory Cloud
A cloud which is dependent on a larger cloud system for development and continuance. Roll clouds, shelf clouds, and wall clouds are examples of accessory clouds.
Transport of an atmospheric property by the wind. See cold advection, moisture advection, warm advection.
Air-mass Thunderstorm
Generally, a thunderstorm not associated with a front or other type of synoptic-scale forcing mechanism. Air mass thunderstorms typically are associated with warm, humid air in the summer months; they develop during the afternoon in response to insolation, and dissipate rather quickly after sunset. They generally are less likely to be severe than other types of thunderstorms, but they still are capable of producing downbursts, brief heavy rain, and (in extreme cases) hail over ¾" (19 mm)in diameter. See popcorn convection.

Since all thunderstorms are associated with some type of forcing mechanism, synoptic-scale or otherwise, the existence of true air-mass thunderstorms is debatable. Therefore the term is somewhat controversial and should be used with discretion.

A computer program (or set of programs) which is designed to systematically solve a certain kind of problem. WSR-88D radars (NEXRAD) employ algorithms to analyze radar data and automatically determine storm motion, probability of hail, VIL, accumulated rainfall, and several other parameters.
Anticyclonic Rotation
Rotation in the opposite sense as the Earth's rotation, i.e., clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere as would be seen from above. The opposite of cyclonic rotation.
The flat, spreading top of a Cb (Cumulonimbus), often shaped like an anvil. Thunderstorm anvils may spread hundreds of miles downwind from the thunderstorm itself, and sometimes may spread upwind (see back-sheared anvil).
Anvil Crawler [Slang]
A lightning discharge occurring within the anvil of a thunderstorm, characterized by one or more channels that appear to crawl along the underside of the anvil. They typically appear during the weakening or dissipating stage of the parent thunderstorm, or during an active MCS.
Anvil Dome
A large overshooting top or penetrating top.
Anvil Rollover [Slang]
A circular or semicircular lip of clouds along the underside of the upwind part of a back-sheared anvil, indicating rapid expansion of the anvil. See cumuliform anvil, knuckles, mushroom.
Anvil Zits
Frequent (often continuous or nearly continuous), localized lightning discharges occurring from within a thunderstorm anvil.
Anomalous Propagation
Anomalous Propagation. Radar term for false (non-precipitation) echoes resulting from nonstandard propagation of the radar beam under certain atmospheric conditions.
Approaching (severe levels)
A thunderstorm which contains winds of 35 to 49 knots (40 to 57 mph / 64 to 93 km/h), or hail ½" (13 mm) or larger but less than ¾" (19 mm) in diameter. See severe thunderstorm.
A low, horizontal cloud formation associated with the leading edge of thunderstorm outflow (i.e., the gust front). Roll clouds and shelf clouds both are types of arcus clouds.