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April 7, 2011 / Dave Gorham

Texas Drought Blamed For Extraordinary Wind Storm

Earlier this week, an incredible wind storm affected the southeastern U.S. and some electric providers are saying it’s one of the worst in terms of power outages in years. In addition, the Storm Prediction Center received a whopping 1,245 wind damage reports in a 24-hour period.

 Wind damage reports are shown in blue. Image: Storm Prediction Center

Why were there so many wind reports with this particular system? Dry air aloft was the main culprit and if you’ve been an avid reader of YourWeatherBlog you’ve probably read my post about the ongoing drought across Texas. Widespread drought conditions continue across Texas and northwestward into New Mexico, Arizona and eastern Colorado.

 Areas in red are currently in an Extreme Drought. Image: U.S. Drought Monitor

 

 Image: U.S. Drought Monitor

Now here’s why it happened. Very dry air at the surface and aloft over the Southern Plains lifted quickly to the northeast earlier this week underneath an advancing storm system resulting in widespread reports of downburst winds over the Southeast.

 Here is the 700 millibar RH (relative humidity) map over the southern U.S. this past Sunday, which was the day before the event. Notice the areas in yellow across the Southern Plains which indicate the very dry air over the area.

 Here’s the 500 millibar chart that looks at the wind pattern for Monday morning.

 On Monday, April 4th you can see the dry air (indicated in green and yellow) over the Southeast.

According to StormWatch Manager Fred Schmude, we could see a similar pattern set up again soon as the south central states remain dry. This is an area we’ll keep a close eye on over the weekend into early next week.

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