A commercial pilot in France took these absolutely stunning pictures of a supercell thunderstorm yesterday afternoon. On Monday, the western European country faced its second day of a powerful severe weather outbreak that dropped baseball to softball size hail near Paris.
The storm's mesocyclone — the broad rotation within the storm — is visible on the left, appearing as a wall cloud that almost looks like a foot. The heavy rain and hail is seen on the right side of the storm, and the pilot's unique vantage point let him catch a great view of the anvil as the storm hit the tropopause (essentially, the top of the atmosphere for the weather) and spread out.
It often comes as a surprise to people that the United States isn't the only country in the world that sees tornadoes and supercell thunderstorms. While we have a monopoly on the beautiful and destructive phenomenon, Plains-type supercells can also occur in Europe, southern Africa, Australia, and less frequently around Bangladesh in Asia.
The severe weather outbreak in France left behind unimaginably large hail to the size of baseballs and softballs.