Heat Burst Spikes Temperature to 93° at 10:40 am


Friday, May 4th 2012, 2:00 pm
By: News 9


We had a few thunderstorms move into the metro this morning. While they were not severe, they did produce some very heavy rain and a lot of lightening. As the storms began to dissipate, we started seeing heat bursts at the surface. This is a rapid rise in temperature combined with a drastic drop in dew point. In some locations temperatures spiked almost 20 degrees in a half hour. Keep in mind temperatures were generally in the low 70s across the metro before this started.

At 9:15 am the temperature at the El Reno Mesonet site was 74° and by 9:50 am the temperature had shot up to 88°! This was accompanied by wind gusts of 56 mph. 15 minutes later, temperatures were back in the 70s. Heat bursts were also recorder in Kingfisher and Marshall. In Kingfisher, temps went from 74° at 10:00 am to 93° at 10:40 am! It was back down in the 70s 30 minutes later. In Marshall, it was 73° at 10:20 am and by 11:00 am temps jumped up to 90°! Again, back down to the 70s a short time later. Dew points also plummeted in these locations nearly 30 degrees in 20 minutes.

Heat bursts are somewhat rare, and are very intriguing from a meteorology standpoint. So what causes them? Heat bursts are usually associated with collapsing storms. As rain falling from the storm interacts with dry air, it starts to evaporate and the air around it cools drastically. This cool pocket of air becomes much more dense then the air around it, and quickly shoots down to the surface. As the air descends rapidly, it warms due to compression. This quick downward movement can also create strong winds at the surface, just like we say in El Reno this morning.

I have to say, I was like a kid in a candy store while this was going on. Refreshing our data pages every second to see just how high the temperatures were going to rise. We had a viewer call and ask, "why in the world is it 90° at 10 o'clock in the morning in early May?!" If you are that caller, and you are reading this, I want to apologize for keeping you on the phone that long. You got an earful of meteorological information that I'm sure you didn't want to hear. It was all bundled up inside of me and I had no one to share it with. Thanks for listening and at pretending to be as excited as I was!