Joe’s Weather Blog: The historic storm departs (THU-12/16)

Weather Blog

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — What a day… what a night. From the southern Plains to the upper Midwest, from New Mexico to Michigan… this storm was impressive. Record warmth, including all-time record highs for December (perhaps an Iowa-state record high for December)… The biggest outbreak of strong and likely damaging winds, tornadoes, wildfires, smoke, and blinding dust… You name it and this storm had it. Minnesota may have had their first tornado in the month of December.

It was also a derecho because of the length of the damaging winds that swept through the Plains… in December no less.




Today: Sunny and chillier. Calmer too with highs in the upper 40s.

Tonight: Fair and cold with lows in the mid-20s.

Tomorrow: Increasing clouds with some showers possible south of Kansas City. Highs in the upper 40s.

This weekend: Chillier too with highs in the 30s Saturday and in to the lower 40s Sunday. It will feel like December with a pretty good wind on Saturday.



Wow… simply wow.

I start with this: Yesterday there were the most severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings issued in Kansas (42) compared to the previous 35 years COMBINED (38)! This is via @JakeCarstens. Look at all the warnings issued for this storm:

There was blinding dust and wild fires, especially out towards central and western Kansas near and north of Russell. The storm sucked in that dust and smoke and wrapped it into the Kansas City region in the evening behind the thunderstorms that moved through.

I thought I’d start with this picture from Brandon Lee who was flying into Kansas City through Kansas and was watching the storms develop.

Notice the hazy look on the left side of the image towards the winglet. That is the dust that was transported from Kansas and Colorado into the storm itself. That moved through the region last night, cutting visibility to under 2 feet for a few hours in spots. Also there were wildfires burning the terrain in central Kansas. You could see them on the satellite picture. They were big and spreading rapidly aided by 75 mph winds. The areas circled represent some of the fires. See the dark patches?

The smoke and dust from all of this ended up in Michigan.

Look at where all of this was transported too… and so fast!

The storm set a record, not only for December, but all-time for the most 75 mph wind gusts recorded.

This would be more than the infamous 2020 Corn Belt Derecho!

Also of note: If this would’ve happened about six weeks ago when there were still so many leaves on the trees because of our weird leaf-changing season… this would’ve have been even more destructive.

There are a lot of people without power from this mess, and it may be quite some time to get power back to some people as well. The grid took a pretty good hit from all this:

This as well was a fascinating storm in another way: the winds above us. Yesterday I wrote about these strong winds aloft helping to fuel the strong winds on the ground. Well the balloon launch in the evening yesterday at Topeka, Kansas captured just how strong the winds were. All-time strong for the date and in over 48,000 other soundings for as long as they launched weather balloons. I believe this goes back to at least the 40s.

That’s incredible… look at where the balloon ended up.

So in the end, a LOT of these winds worked their way aloft and then down to the ground. That resulted in a ton of damaging winds. And this mostly doesn’t take into account the 50-70 mph winds that occurred before the thunderstorms rolled through.

There were some hail reports as well, in Johnson County, Kansas and up into Northwest Missouri.

The Ws are wind reports and the Hs are hail reports. The Ts are tornado reports

Really incredible.

The winds though… wow!

Here is an early look at the strongest wind gusts on the Kansas side.

Meanwhile in southern Nebraska:

From a tornado standpoint, at one point a warning was issued and the speed of the tracked rotation was 110 mph. Incredible… never seen that before.

The rain that we got broke a month-long dry streak, but really wasn’t much to write home about.

There was a lot of electricity with this as well.

Then there were the temperatures: 74 degrees was the official high at KCI. That TIED the all-time December record high. It broke the daily high record for Dec. 15 and it was the warmest high so late into the year in Kansas City weather history and we weren’t alone:

What a storm and something that we may never see in December again for decades to come.

Brandon Lee with the feature photo of the day.


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