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A Thunderstorm Dies, Then Suddenly, a Hot Wind
June 12, 2013 11:19 AM   Subscribe

On June 11th, 2013, in the wee hours of an early summer night in Nebraska, the temperature shot from 73°F to 99°F in the space of minutes, accompanied by 50MPH winds. The cause of this weather oddity was the poorly understood Heat Burst, a phenomenon that sometimes occurs as thunderstorms die out, usually late at night. The temprature rise can be so extreme that it has been imaged from space, and there are unconfirmed stories of heat so extreme that crops were cooked in the fields where they grew, and paint blistered on houses and vehicles. Once believed to be a very rare event, with the advent of personal weather stations, science may find they are more frequent than was previously believed.
posted by smoothvirus (22 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, that is fascinating. Thank you.
posted by Think_Long at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2013


As mentioned in the other storm thread, a summer thunderstorm usually brings along a nice drop in temperature, which can be a pretty nice bit of respite from the long hot days. To get sucker-punched by a heat burst afterward instead...that's just plain wrong.
posted by jquinby at 11:25 AM on June 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Not to be that guy, but this is why we don't want to ignore signs of climate change. It's pretty scary/amazing all on its own.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:33 AM on June 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


It appears J.B.S. Haldane was correct not only about the universe, but even just our own little planet.
posted by TedW at 11:34 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Note: "burned" plants do not necessarily imply incineration or cooking.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2013


This happens every time I eat Taco Time...
posted by stenseng at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow - fascinating stuff. And MCMikeNamara beat me to it. It's amazing how with all of the extreme weather lately - there hasn't been an (anecdotally) increase in climate change coverage in popular news sources.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 11:44 AM on June 12, 2013


Heat burst = storm fart.
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 11:46 AM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm Doing the Dishes: Heat burst = storm fart.

My daughter used to be scared of thunderstorms until I told her thunder was basically electrofarts. I explained that gas squeezing past your butt makes a fart, and lightning squeezing past our atmosphere makes thunder, so... electrofarts. She just thinks of it that way and it seems funny (and she thinks about how dorky her Dad is) and she's laughing instead of scared.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:04 PM on June 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


I suspect mammatus clouds shot through with an Aurora Borealis display could pour ball lightning and 10 lb chunks of hail waving purple tentacles and people would not stop trying to run their lawnmowers.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:29 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I suspect mammatus clouds shot through with an Aurora Borealis display could pour ball lightning and 10 lb chunks of hail waving purple tentacles and people would not stop trying to run their lawnmowers.

Yeah, but the Benny's down the road now has battery-powered lawnmowers for around $250 - considering the hassle of small motor maintenance, it's pretty tempting. I've already switched to a battery-powered weed-whacker and leaf blower, and don't miss the gasoline-powered equipment at all.

So change is coming, but it's going to be an evolution rather than a revolution. We're not all going to hitch rides on horse-drawn wagons to go move into Brooklyn in order to escape the desertified waste of the 'burbs. Sorry, kids.

Next year, there will be 50 EV charging stations opening up in RI... you could tee-off a golf ball from one to the next clear into Connecticut. That has me thinking pretty hard about an EV vehicle as a commuter, but fast charging (10 minutes or less for a full charge) is going to be the breakthrough required to seal the deal.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:44 PM on June 12, 2013


As mentioned in the other storm thread, a summer thunderstorm usually brings along a nice drop in temperature, which can be a pretty nice bit of respite from the long hot days. To get sucker-punched by a heat burst afterward instead...that's just plain wrong.

This reminds me of when I first realized I had (adult-onset) asthma. I was 31 or so, living in Japan. It had been an unusually cool and rainy summer (cool being in the low 20's), followed by several weeks of torrid temperatures lasting into early September.

It got really hot (40 degrees) and humid as a typhoon came through. The typhoon passed by and the temperature plummeted to 18 degrees Celsius. Pure pleasure, pure comfort, and pure relaxation, but the sudden temperature drop triggered my first asthma attack.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:45 PM on June 12, 2013


The temperature rising like that would scare the hell out of me. 26 degrees in minutes at night? That's when your first instinct is "something is very wrong here."
posted by azpenguin at 1:08 PM on June 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Someone call those Winchester boys...
posted by The Whelk at 1:28 PM on June 12, 2013


I thought the derechos were bad.

Wait. Is that what's causing this.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 1:29 PM on June 12, 2013


I used to enjoy electrofart, but now it's in all these car commercials and stuff so now I'm kind of sick of it.
posted by brundlefly at 1:36 PM on June 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


So by analogy, a tornado is an electroshart.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:53 PM on June 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Annoying how things get hotter when they are compressed, isn't it?
posted by wierdo at 3:57 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's the largest 2-minute temperature change in history: 49 degrees in 2 minutes.

The cause is chinook winds--apparently quite different from what this OP is describing.

I happen to know this because I had the good fortune to live in Spearfish for a while and, uh, everyone told me. Apparently you can can't live in Spearfish without knowing this.
posted by flug at 4:02 PM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascinating post. I'd never heard of this before. Thanks, smoothvirus.
posted by homunculus at 5:31 PM on June 12, 2013


Heat bursts; a new reason to be afraid of thunderstorms.

this is why we don't want to ignore signs of climate change

It is? What does global climate change have to do with this unusual local weather phenomenon?
posted by Nelson at 6:36 PM on June 12, 2013


I thought the derechos were bad.

Wait. Is that what's causing this.


Yah, we're battening down the hatches here Chez Missy, and I'm considering calling tonight Family Campout Night and dragging us all to the basement. We're only getting a bit of distant thunder on and off right now, but it looks like we're going to get shit-hammered by about 1AM. I'd rather already be underground when the sirens blow, instead of herding the dogs at some indecent hour when I'm half asleep.

Last year's derecho and the ensuing heat wave was a real shit show. We managed to (mostly) keep power, it was only out for half a day, but then our AC died right as the heat wave hit, and it took a week to get the part. Normally, I'd be all "Whatever, first world problems.", but our French exchange student had just arrived, and the poor thing had never encountered such heat before. We went to the movies quite a bit until the AC was running again. I hope the Weather Gods are kinder this year.
posted by MissySedai at 8:08 PM on June 12, 2013


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