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GBDNA / Mesoscale Cold Pools

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U N D E R   C O N S T R U C T I O N

Upper Level Cyclonic Systems
Mesoscale Cold Pools and Disturbances

See Also: CIMSS Case Study Of MCC

A Mesoscale Convective Complex (MCC) is a large Mesoscale Convective System (MCS), generally round or oval-shaped, which normally reaches peak intensity at night. The formal definition includes specific minimum criteria for size, duration, and eccentricity (i.e., “roundness”), based on the cloud shield as seen on infrared satellite photographs:

  • Size: Area of cloud top -32°C or less: 100,000 square km or more (slightly smaller than the state of Ohio), and area of cloud top -52°C or less: 50,000 square km or more.
  • Duration: Size criteria must be met for at least 6 hours.
  • Eccentricity: Minor/major axis at least 0.7.

MCCs typically form during the afternoon and evening in the form of several isolated thunderstorms, during which time the potential for severe weather is greatest. During peak intensity, the primary threat shifts toward heavy rain and flooding.

A Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) is a complex of thunderstorms which becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms, and normally persists for several hours or more. MCSs may be round or linear in shape, and include systems such as tropical cyclones, squall lines, and MCCs (among others). MCS often is used to describe a cluster of thunderstorms that does not satisfy the size, shape, or duration criteria of an MCC.


"A Guide to Baroclinic Disturbances" is © 2007 by Larry Cosgrove.
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