Get Answers: What's a Hook Echo in Meteorology Terms?

5:51 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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When severe weather strikes and a meteorologist explains what the radar maps are telling us things sometimes get technical with all the science terms flying at you.

So WMAZ's Jennifer Moulliet sat down with our Meteorologist John Boyer to find out what a Hook Echo looks like on the radar.

John says the hook is a feature on the radar that tells when a storm is severe and has rotation, which could indicate a possible tornado.

"So what's happening is that rotation in the storm is actually blowing air particles and the rain drops around itself creating this hook shape." explains John 

And for those who think you can spot the 'hook' by just looking up at the sky, John explains what you may be seeing.

"Some clouds have lowerings that aren't moving in a circular fashion and sometimes there not any indication of anything bad at all they're called accessory clouds or scary looking clouds some of them are rather menacing and some could just be rain falling out the bottom of a storm."

He says a tornado spout is obvious if it's not wrapped in rain.

"Clouds that are moving in one direction on one side and then in the background on the other side it may sometimes look like it's not reaching the ground." says John

He says the hook isn't the only indication of a tornado. Meteorologists also measure the velocity data of a storm, or the direction and speed of the rain drops moving inside of the storm.
"The green shades are showing us that the rain in the storm is being blown towards the radar sight and red away and right here in this spot is at faster and faster speeds right next to each other so that's showing us where there is circulation happening that's a definite sign of a tornado on the ground, and in this case this was the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa last April. " says John

Just to compare he also showed us the velocity map for Central Georgia sunday.

John says you shouldn't go looking for the "hooks" and if you're under a tornado warning you should stay inside, and trust the meteorologists.

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