High Winds Rock Hutchinson Again (6/18/2009)

By: Paul Howerton

Winds gusting to 75 mph blasted through Hutchinson last night, only two days after severe thunderstorms tore through the city.

The highest measured gust was 75 mph at the Hutchinson airport at 1102 pm. The wind caused some power outages across the county. A tree fell on a residence in Hutchinson, and one building had significant roof damage. While Hutchinson sustained the highest winds, several locations across central Kansas measured gusts near 50 mph between 10 pm and 1130 pm. No damage has been reported in the other counties. The measured gusts at area airports include:

   Hutchinson  75 mph at 1102 pm
   Ellsworth   52 mph at 1034 pm
   McPherson   52 mph at 1122 pm
   Salina      48 mph at 1114 pm
   Russell     47 mph at 1045 pm
   Great Bend  45 mph at  935 pm

The high winds this evening were caused by a different process from those two nights ago. Thunderstorms developed in northwest Oklahoma and southwest Kansas late this afternoon and evening, then diminished towards sunset. These storms rapidly diminished to the point that no cloud to ground lightning was detected in the areas with the high winds and rainfall quickly diminished. Only a trace of rain was reported at the Hutchinson airport as the shower passed overhead (Image 1).

The lowest 12,000 feet of the atmosphere was extremely dry with temperatures falling rapidly with increasing altitude. Technically it would be the dry adiabatic lapse rate. Winds around 6000 feet were from the southwest at 40 to 50 mph. As the storms collapsed, air started to descend and warm, aided by the fairly strong and otherwise favorable southwest winds. Unlike a microburst which is usually the result of evaporation and cooling, temperatures warmed as the winds increased at the surface. Relative humidity also plummeted. The most impressive example of this process was at McPherson where the following conditions were observed:

   Time     Temp  RH   Wind
   1042 pm    84  40   SW at 10 mph gusting to 30 mph
   1115 pm    87  36   SW at 17 mph gusting to 23 mph
   1120 pm    88  29   SW at 30 mph gusting to 37 mph
   1122 pm    91  23   SW at 40 mph gusting to 52 mph
   1125 pm    94  20   SW at 33 mph gusting to 52 mph
   1131 pm   100  15   SW at 29 mph gusting to 52 mph

Only very weak radar echoes were evident around the time of the high winds at McPherson. (See image 2)

This story was brought to you by the National Weather Service - Wichita, Kansas.

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