Reading The Sky - The Rear Flank Downdraft

Tornado season may be getting ready to ramp up here in the Panhandle. I chased a supercell from Palo Duro Canyon to Plainview last week. As the storm neared Tulia it produced a funnel cloud, thankfully never reaching the ground! This storm displayed a vital clue in tornado formation, a region known as the Rear Flank Downdraft. The RFD forms in the mid levels on the back side of the storm, forcing air downward by negative buoyancy. Consequently air from the RFD is warm and dry as a result. It will often cut a hole near the wall cloud which can be seen as a clear slot. Just before a tornado forms you'll often see the RFD wrap around the wall cloud.