Weather Definition For the Week: MCS

storms What is an MCS? Well, it stands for Mesoscale Convective System.  It’s a term you will likely hear myself and others throw around many times over the coming days as several rounds of showers and thunderstorms will threaten eastern Iowa.

A Mesoscale Convective System, or MCS, is a complex of thunderstorms that become organized on a scale larger than just one storm.  An MCS normally takes on many forms over the course of several hours.

Generally, an MCS begins with a complex of surface-based thunderstorms.  Often times this includes supercells that produce severe weather.  Later they can take on the shape of a squall line.  As storms become more elevated they increase in speed and the threat shifts to damaging winds.  Often times these storms can cause more damage because they produce devastating straight-line winds over a large area.

The final stage of an MCS can be training thunderstorms.  As the complex begins to lose forward momentum, storms often time continue to drop enormous amounts of rain over a given area.  Stalled out, the storms also follow each  other.  Not all MCS’s take on this life cycle, but it’s a classic example.

With several rounds of severe weather possible, MCS’s are quite likely.  The bulk of the severe weather is expected to remain to the south and west of eastern extendedsevereIowa, but leftovers could lead to some bumpy and noisy nights here.

Later in the week, we expect some better chances of organized severe weather in eastern Iowa, especially on Friday.  Of course we will continue to follow all the threats and keep you informed.

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