While local weather over the past week has been far
South African storm chaser Mungo Poore managed to spot this well defined hook echo on the Durban radar on the 6th of May 2009. There were no confirmed reports of tornadoes or funnel clouds at the time of writing this article but hook echoes are the tell tail signs for possible tornado development. There were however reports of large hail, which is expected with a well defined, high intensity severe thunderstorm. Hook echoes occur with certain rotating severe thunderstorms, known as supercells and are the target area for chasers looking to get a tornado interception. The reason for the name is pretty clear with the storm taking on the shape of a hook, there is a high intensity area on hook echoes which is called the core, the core holds the heaviest rain and largest hail. The core is usually avoided by chasers as it can disrupt the view of the tornado or break windshields with large hail, one would usually try stay ahead of the hook on the opposite side of the core to keep ahead while waiting for it to drop a tornado, it also makes escape easier since you don’t have to head into the low visibility core. Many chasers do ‘punch the core’ on occasion as a last option if the storm is getting ahead of them and they are unable to get around it.