The Majestic Supercell
In radar terms, the vault is a region of a supercell downshear from the updraft (usually to the E or NE of the mesocyclone), where large precipitation reflectors like hail arch high over the relatively precip-free inflow air, forming a vaulted reflectivity pattern in cross-section. [Very large and damaging hail sometimes does fall to the ground from there, however!] This is a clean view directly into that part of the storm -- we can call it the "visual vault" -- with the rotating updraft tower at left, the tail cloud below and the downshear precip area at right. Seldom is there such a striking example! The storm was more than a great specimen; it also formed a sky sculpture of inspiring beauty. It moved toward the SSE, conveniently parallel to and (at times) right atop one of the few roads in this part of New Mexico. The wide but harmless area of dust under the east part of the updraft was kicked up by outflow from the forward-flank precip region at right. The next page in the Majestic Supercell set shows later views of this spectacular storm.
3 NNW Roy NM (3 Jun 3) Looking NNE