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Heat burst

In meteorology, a heat burst is a rare atmospheric phenomenon characterized by a sudden, localized increase in air temperature near the Earth's surface. Heat bursts typically occur during night-time and are associated with decaying thunderstorms.[1] They are also characterized by extremely dry air and are sometimes associated with very strong, even damaging, winds.

Although the phenomenon is not fully understood, the event is thought to occur when rain evaporates (virga) into a parcel of cold, dry air high in the atmosphere, making the air denser than its surroundings.[2] The parcel descends rapidly, warming due to compression, overshoots its equilibrium level, and reaches the surface, similar to a downburst.[3]

Recorded temperatures during heat bursts have reached well above 40 °C (104 °F), sometimes rising by 10 °C (18 °F) or more within only a few minutes.

  1. ^ American Meteorological Society. (2000). Glossary of Meteorology. American Meteorological Society. ISBN 1-878220-34-9. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011.
  2. ^ "Oklahoma "heat burst" sends temperatures soaring". USA Today. 8 July 1999. Retrieved 9 May 2007.
  3. ^ Johnson, Jeffrey (December 2003). "Examination of a Long-Lived Heat Burst Event in the Northern Plains". National Weather Digest. National Weather Association. 27: 27–34. Archived from the original on 11 June 2005.