Gustnadoes Near Grant, Nebraska On April 13th

On April 13th, a strong cold front moved across western and north central Nebraska. Ahead of the front, strong gusty winds prompted the issuance of a high wind warning across southwestern Nebraska. A squall line developed as forecast, and slammed across the region on Tuesday, April 13th.  Some scattered thunderstorms developed along and just ahead of the advancing cold front.  A brief supercell thunderstorm formed and prompted a tornado warning for western Arthur, southeastern Grant and northwestern Keith counties. This tornado warning was issued at 428 PM MDT, and cancelled by 455 PM MDT, as the parent thunderstorm weakened.

A phenomenon known as a gustnado occurred in Perkins county, near Grant Nebraska.  An off duty NWS senior meteorologist, who was storm chasing, reported  two brief gustadoes to the National Weather Service in North Platte, at 546 PM MDT.

A brief definition of a gustnado is that it is a shortened version of gust front tornado.  Gustnadoes mainly form from the gust front, from outflow dominated thunderstorms.  The cool downdraft air helps lift the warm air ahead of the gust front - which helps to create an eddy.  Gustnadoes can also occur from the rear flank downdraft of a thunderstorm, when the rain cooled air descends quickly to the ground.  One thing to keep in mind is that gustnadoes are not like a classic tornado.  The main difference is that a tornado is a violently rotating column of air with a connection to the cloud base.  A gustnado spins up from the ground upwards, with no connection to the actual cloud base.  A gustnado typically lasts on the order of a few seconds to a few minutes.  A stronger gustnado can do damage equivalent to that of an EF0 or EF1 tornado although that is rare.

Below are a couple photographs furnished by long time, accomplished storm chaser and photographer, Dean Cosgrove who also was out storm chasing on April 13th.

Gustnado near Grant, Nebraska - credit to Dean Cosgrove
(Gustnado near Grant, NE - photo credit to Dean Cosgrove)

Supercell thunderstorm (Supercell thunderstorm above - photo credit to Dean Cosgrove)
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