The image below from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shows several thunderstorms in southeast Queensland today and the directions they are expected to move.

I'm surprised how different these directions are. I had imagined that

  • the main influence on a storm's trajectory would be high level winds, and
  • the high level winds would be relatively uniform in such an area, being unaffected by geographical features (hills, rivers).

But that doesn't seem to fit with this evidence.

What factors influence the direction of a storm's movement?

Thunderstorms in south-east Queensland

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ i am presuming there is involvement of friction and that plays a role in the storm movement especially in the planetary boundary layer. $\endgroup$
    – user1066
    Commented Dec 31, 2017 at 9:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ earth.nullschool.net in no way answers your question, but looks really cool. $\endgroup$
    – user967
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 13:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would expect vertical convection to play important role $\endgroup$
    – Gabija
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Gabija Would you suggest that the type of ground cover and terrain would influence the convection and thereby the direction? $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 21:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @John I think 2nd chapter in this paper (journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/…) suggests that at least their origin depends on convection caused by topography. $\endgroup$
    – Gabija
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 10:16


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