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Heat Bursts Hit South Dakota

I saw a tweet from KSFY’s Shawn Cable earlier this morning. Another neat weather thing I hadn’t heard of!

MT @NWSSiouxFalls: 2 heat bursts early this morning, one at Chamberlain, the other at Huron. At 2am, Chamberlain was 90, 4am Huron 91. #sdwx

So, what the heck is a heat burst. Better yet, why do they call them that?

According to Wikipedia:

In meteorology, a heat burst is a rare atmospheric phenomenon characterized by gusty winds and 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]

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]

Recorded temperatures during heat bursts have reached well above 38 °C (100 °F), sometimes rising by 11 °C (20 °F) or more within only a few minutes. More extreme events have also been documented, where temperatures have been reported to exceed 120 °F (49 °C). 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.

I’m no meteorologist, but that’s pretty neat stuff.

Heat burst.  Now you know!


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