Saturday, August 23, 2014

Views of a Kansas Microburst

Storm chaser Beth Bowdoin nailed a microburst in Reno County, Kansas, yesterday afternoon. She kindly agreed to allow me to use them.

The first shows the downburst descending from the cloud.

The second photo shows the globule of torrential rain almost to the ground. Because the storm is moving from left to right, the rain takes a tilted appearance. During this time cloud-to-ground lightning (not shown in the photos) picked up in frequency. This is common with downbursts.

The third photo shows the microburst made it to the ground and the winds began to spread.

Photo number four has the downburst spreading and a reinforcing globule descending.

I've increased the contrast to show the wind flow in the above image. The circle shows the horizontal rotation as it falls to earth.

The final image shows the reinforcing globule almost to the ground with the original microburst continuing to spread.

Here is a diagram of the winds with the final image.

I captured the National Weather Service radar at the time downburst was spreading out near Pretty Prairie. The most intense downbursts often occur along boundaries, in this case the boundary of rain-cooled air from earlier thunderstorms the 100° ambient air

Eleven minutes later, the Doppler velocity data shows the wind flow after the microburst has spread out. I've circled the northern (second) extension of the microburst. The greens are winds blowing toward the radar and reds away from the radar which is located at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport.
The peak wind that I saw was near 50 mph. That might not be exact.

Downbursts are an extreme hazard to landing and departing aircraft. If you wish to learn more about them, please see Anatomy of a Microburst, the second all-time most popular posting on this blog.

Thanks again, Beth. Great photos.

1 comment:

  1. This must be what took down the large powerlines along US-50 to the east of Hutchinson.


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