Mesoscale convective vortex

From Glossary of Meteorology

mesoscale convective vortex

(Abbreviated MCV)

A midlevel, warm-core low pressure center that develops within the stratiform region of a mesoscale convective system (MCS) as a result of latent heat release over a multihour time period. The cyclonic vortex has a diameter ranging from 50 to 200 km (31 to 124 mi) and a depth from 2.5 to 5 km (1.5 to 3.1 mi). An MCV can persist for 12 hours or more after its parent MCS has dissipated. A residual MCV may help initiate a subsequent episode of convection. An MCV that moves into tropical waters can serve as a nucleus for a tropical cyclone.

Bartels, D. L., and R. A. Maddox, 1991: Midlevel cyclonic vortices generated by mesoscale convective systems. Mon. Wea. Rev., 119, 104–118,;2.

Davis, C. A., and M. L. Weisman, 1994: Balanced dynamics of mesoscale vortices produced in simulated convective systems. J. Atmos. Sci., 51, 2005–2030,;2.

—, and Coauthors, 2004: The Bow Echo and MCV Experiment: Observations and opportunities. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 85, 1075–1093,

Term updated 18 March 2019.

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