Wind, Dust and Fires (Again) - 9 April 2009
Graphic of maximum wind gusts recorded around the South Plains area on Thursday (9 April 2009). Wind gusts were recorded by the Texas Tech West Texas Mesonet and the National Weather Service. Click on the image for a larger view.
Graphic of maximum wind gusts recorded around the South Plains area on Thursday (9 April 2009). Wind gusts were recorded by the Texas Tech West Texas Mesonet and the National Weather Service. Click on the image for a larger view.

A dynamic storm system brought another round of wind, dust and wildfires to the region on Thursday, 9 April 2009. This was on the heels of a similar event just five days earlier, on Saturday the 4th. While damage reports across the South Plains were rather limited, the passing storm system did bring widespread wind gusts in the mid 50 to lower 60 mph range from mid-morning through the mid-afternoon hours, including a gust to 62 mph at the Lubbock Airport at 12:42 pm. For a list of severe wind gusts across the area CLICK HERE. The winds gradually diminished during the evening hours as the storm system moved off to the east and deep vertical mixing decreased with the loss of daylight.

Satellite image taken Thursday afternoon (9 April 2009). The image was created by taking the difference between the 11 and 3.9 micrometer satellite channels. Click on the image for a larger view.
Satellite image taken Thursday afternoon (9 April 2009). The image was created by taking the difference between the 11 and 3.9 micrometer satellite channels. The dark blocks from North Texas into central Oklahoma denote "hotspots" where wildfires were ongoing. Also, the lighter grey streaks from the South Plains into North Texas are areas of blowing dust. Click on the image for a larger view.

In addition to the strong winds, warm and very dry air contributed to the ignition and spread of number of wildfires, including one in Bailey county, another in Cochran county, and a third near Matador in Motley county. However, these fires were rather tame in comparison to a corridor of fires that ignited from North Texas into central Oklahoma. The above satellite image depicts numerous wildfires (scattered dark blocks from North Texas into central Oklahoma denote "hotspots" where wildfires were ongoing) Thursday afternoon. The Texas and Oklahoma wildfires consumed tens of thousands of areas, resulted in dozens of injuries and several deaths.  

Infrared satellite image taken late Thursday morning (9 April 2009). Click on the image for a larger view.
Infrared satellite image taken earlyThursday afternoon (9 April 2009). Click on the image for a larger view.
Infrared satellite images taken late Thursday morning (left) and early Thursday afternoon (right). The grey across the South Plains represent areas of dust, with the blue representing regions of clouds. Click on the image for a larger view.

 

The above two infrared satellite images show areas of dust (in grey) developing across the South Plains region during the morning hours (left), with the dust spreading eastward and arcing northward into western North Texas and southwest Oklahoma by early afternoon (right). This dust resulted in considerable visibility reductions across the region throughout the day before gradually settling out during the evening hours, as the wind diminished.

 

Late morning water vapor satellite imagery (9 April 2009). Click on the image for a larger view.
Late morning water vapor satellite imagery (9 April 2009). Oranges and reds represent very dry sinking air, with purples and blues representing moist air. Click on the image for a larger view.

The above water vapor image shows the large scale view of the storm system as it evolved late Thursday morning. An area of dry sinking air (oranges and reds) can be seen on the southern side of the storm over much of the western half of Texas. In advance of the storm moisture (purples and blues), in the form of showers and thunderstorms, is being drawn northward.

 

Radar loop

Radar loop during the early afternoon hours on 9 April 2009.

 

 The above radar loop shows showers and thunderstorms advancing eastward into Missouri and Arkansas, with a narrow north-south oriented line moving through central Oklahoma and North Texas. To the west of the line, strong westerly winds and very dry air was advancing eastward. The west-southwest to east-northeast oriented plumes in western North Texas are areas of smoke being carried eastward from the numerous ongoing wildfires. An additional wildfire smoke plume can be seen advancing eastward out of east-central New Mexico. The arcing line moving southward from the Texas Panhandle into the northern South Plains is a cold front.

Below, the visible satellite image nicely depicts the arching cold front, with a narrow line of cumulus clouds along it. The smoke plumes are less evident, but can be seen as light grey on the image. 

 

Visible satellite image early Thursday afternoon (9 April 2009). Click on the image for a larger view.

Visible satellite image early Thursday afternoon (9 April 2009). Click on the image for a larger view.
 

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