Saturday, July 26, 2014
   
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Heat burst hits Gothenburg early Friday morning

Most Gothenburg residents were most likely asleep during pre-dawn hours last Friday when temperatures spiked, humidity tumbled and the wind began to roar.

The result is what meteorologist call a “heat burst” which occurs with a rapid rise in temperature, a swift drop in humidity and gusty winds.

According to the National Weather Service in Hastings, conditions in Gothenburg at 2:33 a.m. were 80 degrees with 60% humidity.

The temperature quickly climbed to 94 degrees, humidity plummeted to 14% and the wind gusted to 44 mph.

NWS officials said the rare phenomenon was brought on by showers and thunderstorms with high cloud bases (around 12,000 feet) that repeatedly formed and dissipated from north-central Kansas into south-central Nebraska.

Holdrege also experienced a heat burst when the temperature soared from 79 to 97 degrees and humidity dropped from 56% to 11%.

The wind blew at 41 mph.

Other locations experienced heat burst activity but the changes were not quite as extreme, NWS officials said.

Heat bursts are caused when a shower or thunderstorm weakens over a layer of very dry air, weather officials said.

As the last of the precipitation from the weakening shower or thunderstorm falls through the layer of dry air, it begins to evaporating and causes the air to cool.

Cool air is denser so it descends to the surface at a high rate of speed and precipitation within the descending air evaporates.

NWS officials said the air is then dry and can no longer cool.

As it drops through the atmosphere, compression causes the air to warm and the momentum—caused by rapid descent—changes into strong wind.

Surface temperature also increases and dew points drop.

Also on Friday, smoke from fires in Colorado created an orange-colored sky.

“We had all kinds of interesting weather,” said meteorologist Darren Snively of the NWS in North Platte. “And we got some really good rains out of it.”

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