A supercell is a long-lived (greater than 1 hour) and highly organized storm feeding off an updraft (a rising current of air) that is tilted and rotating. This rotating updraft – as large as 10 miles in diameter and up to 50,000 feet tall – can be present as much as 20 to 60 minutes before a tornado forms. Scientists call this rotation a mesocyclone when it is detected by Doppler radar. The tornado is a very small extension of this larger rotation. Most large and violent tornadoes come from supercells.
The photograph is just one image from the portfolio of electrician Sean Heavey. The supercell cloud was photographed in July west of Glasgow, Montana, USA.