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A very rare event occurred last night in Wichita, KS. A significant heat burst was felt throughout the city at 1 AM CDT. The midnight observation showed a temperature of 84 degrees with a dewpoint of 66. The 1 AM observation showed a temperature of 101 with a dewpoint of only 27 degrees! The temperature rose 17 degrees and the dewpoint dropped 39 degress (most likely in a matter of minutes), at 1 AM!
Heat bursts are not fully understood, but are believed to be caused when rain evaporates into a parcel of cold dry air high in the atmosphere making the air denser than its surroundings. The parcel descends rapidly, warming due to compression, overshoots its equilibrium level and reaches the surface. Heat bursts also tend to be associated with gusty (sometimes damaging) winds. During last night’s Wichita heat burst the winds gusted to 38 mph. Below is a graphic depicting what happens in a thunderstorm to cause a heat burst, and below that is the meteogram from Wichita.