...Record Warm Temperatures Bring Unusual December Severe Weather to the Area...
December 26, 2008
An abnormally warm and humid air mass spread across Kansas and Missouri on Friday, thanks in part to a large and powerful storm system which developed across the Great Basin. Temperatures Friday afternoon soared to records levels in the upper 60s. In fact, daily high temperature records were set in Kansas City, St. Joseph, Concordia, Joplin, Springfield, Vichy-Rolla, and Des Moines. This spring-like air mass set the stage for a rapid swing in weather conditions across the area, with extensive snow melt in Iowa creating ice jams and river flooding.
By the evening hours of the 26th, the powerful upper level storm system was beginning to bear down on the Central Plains. A potent cold front was swinging through Nebraska and Iowa, with the development of thunderstorm activity across much of eastern Kansas and west central Missouri by 9 pm. This thunderstorm activity, while strong to severe, caused litte in the way of damage, however did produce flash flooding in areas from Warrensburg, MO to Moberly, MO.
After midnight however, a large line of thunderstorms began to develop further to the west along the aforementioned cold front stretching from central Kansas into northwestern Missouri. Additional stronger thunderstorms developed in areas near Emporia, KS and further southward along Interstate 35 by 3 am. These thunderstorms would go on to produce widespread wind damage as they lifted northward into the Kansas City Metro and areas to the south and east. Composite radar imagery below indicates the regional progression of this line of storms and their track across the region.
|Radar Image - 1:00 AM CST||Radar Image - 4:00 AM CST|
|Radar Image - 4:30 AM CST||Radar Image - 6:00 AM CST|
| Radar Image - 7:06 AM CST
By 430 in the morning, an initial storm moving northeast out of Ottawa, KS began taking on a bowing shape. Initially, winds with this storm only ranged between 40 and 50 mph. However, as this storm began to interact with the strong cold front situated just north of Olathe, KS northeast through Raytown and Blue Springs, MO, a strong rush of winds propelled well out ahead of the rain and lightning portions of the storm. This sharp surge of air was measured by observation stations at New Century Airport in Olathe, KS at 79 MPH, and further east in Lees Summit at 64 MPH. Needless to say, numerous tree damage, window damage, and roof damage occurred in a narrow corridor along a line from Olathe, through Grandview and further east towards Lees Summit. Elsewhere, while winds were not as strong as in southern Johnson and Jackson counties, downtown Kansas City and areas to the east also received winds in excess of 60 mph. Radar imagery below captures the storm as it entered into Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties. Note the strongest winds of this storm were well in front of the rain, with radar data indicating extreme hurricane force winds greater than 80 mph.
|KC Radar Image from 4:34 AM CST Dec 27||KC Radar Image from 4:44 AM CST Dec 27|
A second look at the observation from Olathe, Kansas reveals just how powerful this storm was. Shown below is a time series plot of temperature, dew point, wind speed, wind gust speed, and wind direction (wind barbs). Notice the rapid change in temperatures within an hours time as the strong cold front and thunderstorm gust front intersected each other. All-in-all, a 31 degree temperature drop was recorded with a maximum wind gust of 79 mph.
|Time Series of Observations in Olathe, KS||Storm Reports from Kansas City Area|
A second stronger storm raced northeast after 530 am, however as this storm moved much deeper into the colder air which was arriving from the northwest. Fortunately, it wasn't able to produce the strong damaging winds similar to its predecessor to the north.
Below you will find a listing of severe weather reports which occurred during this event. If you have pictures of the event or of the damage experienced, we would love to see them! Please share your images with us by sending them to email@example.com
PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT...SUMMARY
1206 AM HAIL WARRENSBURG 38.76N 93.73W