What is a sting jet?

David M. Schultz, Keith A. Browning

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


    Some extratropical cyclones possess a maximum of surface wind speed equatorward of their low centres at the end of the feature known as the back-bent front, and close to the tip of a characteristic cloud feature known as a cloud head. In the twentieth century, Norwegian meteorologists referred to this feature as ‘the poisonous tail’ of the back-bent front. In 2004, Browning coined the term sting jet to describe an airstream that descends from the mid-troposphere to end within this surface wind maximum. Later research has confirmed that, in some cyclones, this wind maximum can be composed of air from both the descending sting jet and the cold conveyor belt that encircles the low centre near the surface. Despite the publication of this research, the media, and even some researchers and forecasters, misuse the term ‘sting jet’ to describe the overall wind maximum rather than just its descending part. Thus, this article argues for clarity in the definition of what a sting jet is. Specifically, the term sting jet ought to be reserved specifically for the descending airstream alone, not for the wind maximum equatorward of the low centre more generally.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages4
    Specialist publicationWeather
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2017


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