Friday, September 25, 2015

Classic Downburst South of Wichita

An absolutely classic downburst is shown by the Doppler wind data south of Wichita.

At 5:44pm, you see the green winds blowing toward the radar (~35-40 mph) and red winds blowing away from the radar. The "zot" symbols are cloud-to-ground lightning locations. It is common for lightning to flow from the thunderstorm to the ground in the downburst's rain shaft.

There is another sign of the downburst in the reflectivity data (the type you see on TV).The thin, circular line is called a "gust front" by meteorologists. The reason the thunderstorm is not in the center of the ring is because it has been moving southeast during the few minutes since the downburst first hit the ground.

These are the types of storms that used to cause horrific airliner crashes. However, through the work of weather science, more than a thousand lives and literally billions of dollars have been saved. 

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