I very much want to take pictures like this. I hoping to hit the plains states this next storm season!
I’ve been doing some reading lately on mesocyclones and tornado development, and one of the hallmark signs of a potential tornado forming is a “hook echo” being seen on the weather radar. A hook echo is produced by rain, hail or even debris being wrapped around a supercell, giving the impression of a hook on the radar. Meteorologists consider the presence of a hook echo enough justification to issue a tornado warning for an area. The hook echo has been recognized as a sign of tornado development for most of the history of weather radar. The first hook echo was detected in 1953 by the Illinois State Water Survey during their test to use radar to measure precipitation rates. In the southern US states, hook echos are not always obvious due to the heavier rainfall from the supercell. Instead, the echo will take on a more kidney shape. Here is an example of a classic hook echo – if you see this while checking out the radar, either seek shelter, or head out with your camera!