July 22nd: Hotter, Then a Monster Storm

Saturday, July 22nd was really hot!  It hit 100 degrees at 12:48 PM and remained at or above 100 through 17:33 PM – bringing a nearly 5-hour period of 100 or more, topping out at 103.8 degrees.  But wait, there’s more!  The dew-point at the maximum temperature was 72.5, yielding a ‘heat index’ of 115!  But wait, there’s still more! Atmospheric moisture was ‘pooling’ in the area ahead of a developing storm front late in the afternoon, causing the humidity to spike up at times.  The warmest dew point of the day was 78.3 degrees at 5:28 PM as storms were starting to build to the northwest.  With a temperature at that time of 100.2 degrees, the ‘heat index’ reached 119!  Today was really hot!

As for the storms that evening, is 58 hundredths a miss?  Yes, more or less!  An approaching storm cell that had developed just to the west over Topeka managed to quickly dissipate as it approached Lawrence.  At the same time, a new and very powerful thunderstorm rapidly developed just to the south of town, with additional storm cells then developing on eastward into the south KC metro.  The largest of this developing line of storm cells, just south of Lawrence, then gradually pushed eastward and northward. Lawrence was briefly clipped by this large development to the south, which helped to give most of town a much-needed half inch or so to revive the parched lawns and foliage across town following 9 days of dry and very warm weather.  However, over 2 inches of rain fell as close as 10 miles to the south and east of town and then on across much of the southern and eastern KC metro area.  Along with big, big winds – not in Lawrence but just to the east!

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Radar image with storms initiating about 60-90 miles to the northwest of Lawrence at the highest ‘heat index’ of the day locally – 119 degrees!

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21 minutes later there is rapid development with a circular outflow boundary seen on the west side and a linear outflow boundary (rain-cooled air pushing outward from the storms) extending to the east. In Lawrence (circled), it is still 97.5 degrees, with a dew-point of 78.1 degrees, yielding a ‘heat index’ of 115.

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The visual Satellite image at the time of the second radar image shows a large area of rapidly developing storms. The atmosphere certainly has plenty of heat and humidity to work with! Some areas are going to get pounded real good. But not to worry – we’re safe – we’re in Lawrence!

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Promising looking activity about 50 miles northwest with new development on the outflow boundary of that storm west of Topeka.

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Initial storms push slowly eastward to the northwest of us with new cells forming on the outflow boundary (rain-cooled air from the storms) that is sweeping across Topeka and then arcs to the southwest. Relief from the excessive heat is on the way!

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Image is about same time as previous radar image. Mature storms to the northwest with new development along the outflow boundary near and south of Topeka.

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Outflow boundary just east of Topeka with developing cells pushing eastward, but very slowly!

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Cell has formed just to the west over Topeka and appears to be building and appears to be heading in toward Lawrence.

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Satellite image is same time as previous radar image. Last visual as darkness looms. Overshooting cloud tops with shadows indicate strong storm development just to the west.

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A storm is finally pushing into Lawrence? It can’t be!

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And it isn’t! The approaching cell dissipates just as it moves in, while a new cell starts to develop just to the south!

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Cell that tried to push into Lawrence is gone while a line of new thunderstorms rapidly develops just to the south, extending eastward into the south KC Metro. Plenty of lightning a short distance south!

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Infrared Satellite at same time as previous radar image. White dots are the new cells forming just south of Lawrence and indicate cloud top temperature of -75C, which translates to tops near 100 millibars, or about 55,000 feet. Areas underneath picked up about 2 inches of rainfall in a short period of time.

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Large and strong cell just to the south but not much happening in Lawrence except lots of rolling thunder.

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Back end of large cell clips Lawrence, bringing brief heavy rain and a few overhead loud lightning bolts. Area of strong development beginning to move northeastward. At this time, very strong downburst winds are occurring in the south and west KC metro area with an organized area of strong outflow winds pushing into the west Central part of the KC metro area. Somewhat strong winds occurring at the Lawrence Airport northeast of town. The strong winds did not effect our area of southwest Lawrence, where winds remained light.

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An hour later, a break in the storms over Lawrence with heavy rain and storms mainly in Missouri in the eastern half of the KC Metro where the storm is breaking into three segments as the main cell, mostly east of Lees Summit at this point, punches eastward bringing damaging winds. Other storms behind the initial ones approach the Lawrence area from the west, with more lightning in the sky to the west as we go to bed. This followup activity is on the wane but drops another 15 hundredths or so.

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IR image at same time as previous radar.. some cold -75C tops in Missouri indicate that the storms are maintaining strength and spreading out into three major segments.

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Total rainfall amounts from CoCoRaHS observers on the Kansas side of the KC metro area (with east Lawrence on the west edge of this map).

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Rainfall amounts from CoCoRaHS observation sites on the Missouri side of the KC metro.

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Radar estimated precipitation totals from Topeka Doppler Radar. Depicted amounts look pretty good showing the half inch line going through Lawrence, with a much higher swath to the south of Lawrence extending eastward and then building even into northeast KC as the storm split into three segments.  Strongest winds were along the north border of the green, or one-inch line in the KC area.

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Radar estimated amounts from the Kansas City Radar. Arrow points to our location in Lawrence. Depicted amounts tend to indicate higher and broaden out in area farther away from the radar as the beam expands and rises in elevation from its point of origin.

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