Topeka, KS MCS August 19th, 2016

On August 19th, 2016 a typical late-summer severe weather setup took shape across the Central Plains. A subtle shortwave brought westerly flow across Kansas and Nebraska, while a cold front swept across the region. Some mesoscale features also helped with thunderstorm activity, and a Slight Risk of severe weather, mainly for the threat of damaging winds, was placed from Western Iowa southwest-ward into Northwest Oklahoma. I had kept my eye on the weather for the day, and considered chasing if the opportunity arose. Late in the afternoon, an MCS, or mesoscale convective system, formed over North Central Kansas and moved southeastward. I saw this taking shape on radar, and I set off to chase it. As I looked at radar and at the sky, the storms didn’t look very impressive to me. I decided that it wasn’t worth chasing, and went to Walmart instead. This decision may have been a blessing.

After I bought a few things, I exited Walmart to a breathtaking sight. In the sky to the west was a pretty nice shelf cloud.20160819_184015

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I ran to my car as it had started to rain, and as I drove out of the Walmart parking lot, it started to pour. 45 mph wind gusts brought leaves and other small debris across the road as I headed home. As I got home, I thought the worst was over.

Right as I pulled into my driveway, the storm turned into a hurricane. Very heavy rain along with high winds made it difficult to see out my window. I dashed to the garage and opened the door. The rain kept coming, and the winds only got stronger. As I watched from my garage, a gust of at least 55 mph came over the house and smashed into the trees in my front lawn. A medium-sized branch was snapped off a mimosa tree.

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Eventually, the storm let up, but strong winds and heavy rain continued for another 30 minutes. All in all, for a late summer storm, August 19th exceeded my expectations.

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