Heat burst

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In meteorology, a heat burst is a rare atmospheric phenomenon characterized by gusty winds along with a rapid increase in temperature and decrease in dew point (moisture). Heat bursts typically occur during night-time and are associated with decaying thunderstorms. [1]

Meteorology Interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere focusing on weather forecasting

Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting. The study of meteorology dates back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw modest progress in the field after weather observation networks were formed across broad regions. Prior attempts at prediction of weather depended on historical data. It was not until after the elucidation of the laws of physics and more particularly, the development of the computer, allowing for the automated solution of a great many equations that model the weather, in the latter half of the 20th century that significant breakthroughs in weather forecasting were achieved. An important domain of weather forecasting is marine weather forecasting as it relates to maritime and coastal safety, in which weather effects also include atmospheric interactions with large bodies of water.

Temperature physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold

Temperature is a physical quantity expressing hot and cold. It is measured with a thermometer calibrated in one or more temperature scales. The most commonly used scales are the Celsius scale, Fahrenheit scale, and Kelvin scale. The kelvin is the unit of temperature in the International System of Units (SI), in which temperature is one of the seven fundamental base quantities. The Kelvin scale is widely used in science and technology.

Dew point

The dew point is the temperature to which air must be cooled to become saturated with water vapor. When further cooled, the airborne water vapor will condense to form liquid water (dew). When air cools to its dew point through contact with a surface that is colder than the air, water will condense on the surface. When the temperature is below the freezing point of water, the dew point is called the frost point, as frost is formed rather than dew. The measurement of the dew point is related to humidity. A higher dew point means there will be more moisture in the air.

Contents

Although this phenomenon is not fully understood, it is theorized that the event is caused when rain evaporates (virga) into a parcel of cold, dry air high in the atmosphere- making the air denser than its surroundings. [2] The parcel descends rapidly, warming due to compression, overshoots its equilibrium level and reaches the surface, similar to a downburst. [3]

Virga clouds supplementary feature; precipitation that doesnt reach the ground

In meteorology, a virga is an observable streak or shaft of precipitation falling from a cloud that evaporates or sublimates before reaching the ground. A shaft of precipitation that does not evaporate before reaching the ground is a precipitation shaft. At high altitudes the precipitation falls mainly as ice crystals before melting and finally evaporating; this is often due to compressional heating, because the air pressure increases closer to the ground. It is very common in deserts and temperate climates. In North America, it is commonly seen in the Western United States and the Canadian Prairies. It is also very common in the Middle East, Australia, and North Africa.

Equilibrium level

In meteorology, the equilibrium level (EL), or level of neutral buoyancy (LNB), or limit of convection (LOC), is the height at which a rising parcel of air is at the same temperature as its environment.

Downburst

A downburst is a strong ground-level wind system that emanates from a point source above and blows radially, that is, in straight lines in all directions from the point of contact at ground level. Often producing damaging winds, it may be confused with a tornado, where high-velocity winds circle a central area, and air moves inward and upward; by contrast, in a downburst, winds are directed downward and then outward from the surface landing point.

Recorded temperatures during heat bursts have reached well above 40  °C (104  °F ), sometimes rising by 10 °C (18 °F) or more within only a few minutes. More extreme events have also been documented, where temperatures have been reported to exceed 50 °C (122 °F). However, such extreme events have never been officially verified. Heat bursts are also characterized by extremely dry air and are sometimes associated with very strong, even damaging, winds.

Celsius Scale and unit of measurement for temperature

The Celsius scale, also known as the centigrade scale, is a temperature scale used by the International System of Units (SI). As an SI derived unit, it is used by all countries except the United States, the Bahamas, Belize, the Cayman Islands and Liberia. It is named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius (1701–1744), who developed a similar temperature scale. The degree Celsius can refer to a specific temperature on the Celsius scale or a unit to indicate a difference between two temperatures or an uncertainty. Before being renamed to honor Anders Celsius in 1948, the unit was called centigrade, from the Latin centum, which means 100, and gradus, which means steps.

Fahrenheit unit of temperature

The Fahrenheit scale is a temperature scale based on one proposed in 1724 by Dutch–German–Polish physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686–1736). It uses the degree Fahrenheit as the unit. Several accounts of how he originally defined his scale exist. The lower defining point, 0 °F, was established as the freezing temperature of a solution of brine made from equal parts of ice, water and salt. Further limits were established as the melting point of ice (32 °F) and his best estimate of the average human body temperature. The scale is now usually defined by two fixed points: the temperature at which water freezes into ice is defined as 32 °F, and the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 °F, a 180 °F separation, as defined at sea level and standard atmospheric pressure.

Wind Flow of gases or air on a large scale

Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On the surface of the Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the Sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space. Winds are commonly classified by their spatial scale, their speed, the types of forces that cause them, the regions in which they occur, and their effect. The strongest observed winds on a planet in the Solar System occur on Neptune and Saturn. Winds have various aspects, an important one being its velocity ; another the density of the gas involved; another its energy content or wind energy. Wind is also a great source of transportation for seeds and small birds; with time things can travel thousands of miles in the wind.

Characteristics

In general, heat bursts occur during the late spring and summer seasons. During these times, thunderstorms tend to generate day heating and lose their main energy during the evening hours. [4] Due to a potential temperature increase, heat bursts normally occur at night; however, heat bursts have also been recorded to occur during the daytime. Heat bursts have lasted for times spanning from a couple of minutes to several hours. The rare phenomenon is usually accompanied by strong gusty winds, extreme temperature changes, and an extreme decrease in humidity. They occur near the end of a weakening thunderstorm cluster. Dry air and a low-level inversion are also present during the storm. [5]

Causes

As the thunderstorm starts to dissipate, the layer of clouds start to rise. After the layer of clouds have risen, a rain-cooled layer remains. The cluster shoots a burst of unsaturated air down towards the ground. In doing so, the system loses all of its up-draft related fuel. [6] The raindrops begin to evaporate into dry air, which emphasizes the effects of the heat bursts. As the unsaturated air descends, the air pressure increases. The descending air parcel warms at the dry adiabatic lapse rate of approximately 10 °C per 1000 meters (5.5 °F per 1000 feet) of descent. The warm air from the cluster replaces the cool air on the ground. The effect is similar to someone blowing down on a puddle of water. On 4 March 1990, the National Weather Service in Goodland, Kansas detected a system that had weakening, light rain showers, and snow showers. It was followed by gusty winds and a temperature increase. A heat burst was being observed. The detection proved that heat bursts can occur in both summer months and winter months. The occurrence also proved that a weakening thunderstorm was not needed in the development of heat bursts.

The lapse rate is the rate at which an atmospheric variable, normally temperature in Earth's atmosphere, changes with altitude. Lapse rate arises from the word lapse, in the sense of a gradual change. It corresponds to the vertical component of the spatial gradient of temperature. Although this concept is most often applied to the Earth's troposphere, it can be extended to any gravitationally supported parcel of gas.

National Weather Service United States weather agency

The National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency of the United States federal government that is tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products to organizations and the public for the purposes of protection, safety, and general information. It is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) branch of the Department of Commerce, and is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, within the Washington metropolitan area. The agency was known as the United States Weather Bureau from 1890 until it adopted its current name in 1970.

Goodland, Kansas City and County seat in Kansas, United States

Goodland is a city in and the county seat of Sherman County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 4,489. It was named after Goodland, Indiana. Goodland is home to Northwest Kansas Technical College.

Heat bursts are a variety of downburst. Microburstcrosssection.JPG
Heat bursts are a variety of downburst.

Forecasting

The first step of forecasting and preparing for heat bursts is recognizing the events that come before heat bursts occur. Rain from a high convection cloud falls below cloud level and evaporates, cooling the air. Air parcels that are cooler than the surrounding environment fall. And lastly, temperature conversion mixed with a downdraft momentum continue downward until the air reaches the ground. The air parcels then become warmer than their environment. McPherson, Lane, Crawford, and McPherson Jr. researched the heat burst system at the Oklahoma Mesonet, which is owned by both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. The purpose of their research was to discover any technological benefits and challenges in detecting heat bursts, document the time of day and year that heat bursts mostly occur, and to research the topography of where heat bursts mostly occur in Oklahoma. Scientists and meteorologists use archived data to manually study data that detected 390 potential heat burst days during a fifteen-year period. In studying the archived data, they observed that 58% of the potential days had dry-line passages, frontal passages or a temperature change. The temperature change was due to an increase in solar radiation in the hours of the morning or a daytime precipitation weather system. By studying the archived data, the scientists' have the ability to determine the beginning, peak and end of heat burst conditions. The peak of heat burst conditions is the maximum observed temperature. The beginning of the heat burst occurrence is the time when the air temperature began to increase without decreasing until after the heat burst. The end of the heat burst is when the system ceased to affect the temperature and dew point of the area. In addition to researching the life cycle and characteristics of heat bursts, a group of scientists concluded that the topography of Oklahoma coincided with the change in atmospheric moisture between northwest and southeast Oklahoma. An increase in convection normally occurs over the United States High Plains during the late spring and summer. They also concluded that a higher increase in convection develops if a mid-tropospheric lifting mechanism interacts with an elevated moist layer. [7]

Convection movement of groups of molecules within fluids such as liquids or gases, and within rheids; takes place through advection, diffusion or both

Convection is the heat transfer due to the bulk movement of molecules within fluids such as gases and liquids, including molten rock (rheid). Convection includes sub-mechanisms of advection, and diffusion.

The Oklahoma Mesonet is a network of environmental monitoring stations designed to measure the environment at the size and duration of mesoscale weather events. The phrase "mesonet" is a portmanteau of the words mesoscale and network. In meteorology, “mesoscale” refers to weather events that range in size from approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) to 150 miles (240 km) and can last from several minutes to several hours. Mesoscale events include thunderstorms, wind gusts, heat bursts, and dry lines. Without densely spaced weather observations, these mesoscale events might go undetected. In addition to surface weather observations, Oklahoma Mesonet stations also include environmental data such as on insolation and soil conditions, and some sites are co-located with wind profilers.

University of Oklahoma public research university in Norman, Oklahoma, United States

The University of Oklahoma (OU) is a public research university in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it had existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. In Fall 2018 the university had 31,702 students enrolled, most at its main campus in Norman. Employing nearly 3,000 faculty members, the school offers 152 baccalaureate programs, 160 master's programs, 75 doctorate programs, and 20 majors at the first professional level. David Boren, a former U.S. Senator and Oklahoma Governor, served as the university's president from 1994 to 2018. James L. Gallogly succeeded Boren on July 1, 2018.

Documented cases

Extreme cases

These are cases when temperatures over 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) (the highest officially confirmed in the World, in Death Valley, United States, 1913) were recorded during heat bursts.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Atmospheric convection

Atmospheric convection is the result of a parcel-environment instability, or temperature difference layer in the atmosphere. Different lapse rates within dry and moist air masses lead to instability. Mixing of air during the day which expands the height of the planetary boundary layer leads to increased winds, cumulus cloud development, and decreased surface dew points. Moist convection leads to thunderstorm development, which is often responsible for severe weather throughout the world. Special threats from thunderstorms include hail, downbursts, and tornadoes.

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Wake low

A wake low, or wake depression, is a mesoscale low-pressure area which trails the mesoscale high following a squall line. Due to the subsiding warm air associated with the systems formation, clearing skies are associated with the wake low. Once difficult to detect in surface weather observations due to their broad spacing, the formation of mesoscale weather station networks, or mesonets, has increased their detection. Severe weather, in the form of high winds, can be generated by the wake low when the pressure difference between the mesohigh preceding it and the wake low is intense enough. When the squall line is in the process of decay, heat bursts can be generated near the wake low. Once new thunderstorm activity along the squall line concludes, the wake low associated with it weakens in tandem.

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