First Alert Weather: How damaging winds formed Saturday - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

First Alert Weather: How damaging winds formed Saturday

Source: WMC Action News 5 Source: WMC Action News 5

A relatively quiet day with a few heavy showers turned into a high wind event late Saturday morning. The wind came quickly with no connection to a severe thunderstorm. So what happened?

We believe that these damaging winds were caused by a wake low. Sometimes sinking air can form in the wake of heavy rain, which causes a relative lowering of pressure at this surface. Since air moves from high to low pressure, you can get a rapid flow of air from the relatively higher pressure above the surface into the wake low at the surface. 

This rapidly sinking air caused wind gusts above 40 mph with many areas in Arkansas and west Tennessee recording gusts over 50 mph. With several inches of rain over the past few days, root systems of trees were temporarily weakened by the excessive rainfall. Therefore, a strong wind gust had no trouble toppling over old trees. This event also caused dangerous driving conditions and flipped over a semi in eastern Arkansas. 

Wake lows are nearly impossible to forecast in advance because they are so isolated and relatively rare in our area. Thankfully, no injuries were reported during this wild Mid-South weather event.

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