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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)

Goodland, Kansas Heat Burst Last Night

By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
9/13/2010, 7:45:41 AM

UPDATE: The CIMSS blog has satellite photos showing the heat burst.

Facebook Friend Dan C. posted last night: "Whoa! Heat burst from a severe thunderstorm in Goodland, Kansas!!! Temp just jumped to 91F!!!" Indeed, residents of east-central Colorado and northwest Kansas got to witness a rare "heat burst" in action late Sunday evening.

In the 12 minutes between 9:53 and 10:05 PM, Burlington Airport in Carson City, Colorado registered a 10.6 degree F rise in temperature, from 79 to 89.6 degrees, the end of which also featured a sudden wind gust to 61 mph after an evening of wind speeds in the single digits.


temp906a

By the next observation 45 minutes later, the temperature had fallen 17 degrees to 72, and would fall to 64.9 the next hour. At 10:30 PM Mountain time, the NWS issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Sherman County, even though there was no thunderstorm present - a shower was moving in from Colorado. They said "ALTHOUGH LITTLE IF ANY RAINFALL OR LIGHTNING ARE EXPECTED WITH THIS STORM...SUDDEN STRONG WIND GUSTS ARE LIKELY."


heatburst9-6-2010_8-08-56_AM

At 10:40 they updated the warning to say "VERY LITTLE...IF ANY PRECIPITATION OR LIGHTNING ARE EXPECTED AS THIS STORM PASSES. HOWEVER...SUDDEN WIND GUSTS TO 60 MPH...AREAS OF BLOWING DUST AND A SHARP RISE IN TEMPERATURE ARE EXPECTED."

Further east an amateur weather station in Goodland, Kansas measured a 10-degree rise in 30 minutes, 14 degrees in an hour, jumping from 77 to 91 in the dark. The airport at Goodland also spiked from 82 to 94 degrees, but had fallen to 64 before daybreak. (The hourly obs only reported 92 but raw data showed a 6-hour high of 94). On another note, the station experienced a 43-degree diurnal change yesterday, separate from the heat burst, with a low of 58 vs. a high of 101.

This shower contained what is called a "heat burst". To quote WikiPedia, "Although this phenomenon is not fully understood, it is theorized that the event is caused when rain evaporates (virga) into a parcel of cold dry air high in the atmosphere making the air denser than its surroundings. The parcel descends rapidly, warming due to compression, overshoots its equilibrium level and reaches the surface, similar to a downburst."

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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WeatherMatrix (Jesse Ferrell)