Understanding Mesoanalysis Hodographs

Think of a hodograph as a visual snapshot of how the wind changes with altitude. It plots wind speed and direction at different heights, creating a line that reveals the atmosphere’s wind shear profile. In mesoanalysis, which focuses on smaller-scale weather, hodographs are essential tools for understanding the winds in a localized area.

Why Hodographs Matter for Severe Weather

Meteorologists love hodographs because they instantly show how conducive the atmosphere is to severe storm development. Strong wind shear, especially when the wind changes direction as you go higher, is key for those dangerous rotating supercell thunderstorms. Hodographs also allow calculation of storm-relative helicity, which measures the potential for storm rotation.

It’s Not Just About the Hodograph

To get the full picture, meteorologists pull up tables listing environmental parameters like CAPE (instability) and Lifted Index (how easily air will rise). These values, combined with the hodograph shape, indicate the potential severity of a storm. They’ll also pull up climatological tables for the area – what are the typical or extreme conditions for that location and time of year? Comparing the current data against those historical norms helps determine if today’s atmosphere is truly primed for nasty weather.

New Feature on the SPC Mesoanalysis Page

“New feature on the SPC Mesoanalysis page: Mesoanalysis hodographs! Double click anywhere on the map to bring up the table with environment parameters and climo tables and it’s the last tab. There must be 100 MUCAPE for the hodographs to plot.” Elizabeth Leitman, Severe Storms Meterologist (

Great news for weather nerds! The National Weather Service has added a new feature to the Storm Prediction Center’s (SPC) Mesoanalysis page: Mesoanalysis hodographs. This means meteorologists and weather enthusiasts can now directly access these hodographs alongside the existing environmental parameters and climo tables. This improved accessibility will streamline the analysis process, allowing for a quicker assessment of severe weather potential.

Note: This new feature is not on the mobile version.

Bottom Line

Mesoanalysis hodographs give meteorologists a quick, visual way to dissect the atmosphere’s winds. In tandem with environmental data and historical comparisons, they become powerful tools for identifying severe storm potential and ultimately, helping issue those timely warnings.

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