Severe storms to dust storms….all in a day’s weather!

Sarah Dillingham
CNN Meteorologist

          Monday brought a strong upper-level storm system across the Great Plains, sending rain, hail, wind, and dust across the region.  There were 20 high wind reports from the thunderstorms that moved across Kansas and Oklahoma Monday afternoon.  A woman in Oklahoma was killed Monday when her mobile home overturned as a strong line of thunderstorms moved through, packing straight-line winds between 60 & 70 mph!  Oklahoma City saw wind gusts of 69 mph as storms rolled through, and storms also dropped large, golf ball-sized hail across the region, including across parts of Kansas.  Storms near Wichita, KS produced nickel-sized hail that covered roadways, 67 mph gusts that uprooted trees, and downed power lines that accounted for nearly 1500 homes being without power across Sedgwick county. 

          Meanwhile, on the back of this train of severe weather was another round of severe, non-thunderstorm winds across Texas.  A large dust storm engulfed the Texas Panhandle where wind gusts reached as high as 63 mph.  All of the wind reports across Texas were non-thunderstorm gusts, with most topping 50 & 60 mph.  Wind was not technically the only issue across Texas as huge amounts of dust were being hurled into the air.  4 people were injured along Hwy 287 as 6 vehicles and 5 tractor-trailers were involved in an accident as visibilities reduced to near zero!  Take a look at the NASA MODIS satellite view of the dust as it was swept up behind a strong cold front across the Panhandle….that’s actually the dust you are seeing in the area just north of Lubbock!  These dust storms are not uncommon in these areas, and I have experienced them first hand on numerous occasions.  All I can say, is when the skies turn brown, you better have a scarf and sunglasses handy unless you like the taste of dirt!

          Even for February, we are continuing to see some spring-like storm systems moving through, and the mild winter continues to be seen and contribute to these early season events.  The end of the week is already beginning to look very interesting for another outbreak of severe weather, and the Storm Prediction Center is already on the alert and issued a Slight Risk of seeing severe storms across parts of the Southeast by Thursday, and likely again on Friday.  With La Nina on her way out, we can be sure to see a change-up in the pattern, and more unseasonable events like yesterday and that to come later this week, can be expected to continue.

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