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The Science Behind Saturday Night's Windstorm in Omaha

60-70 mph winds from a light shower caused damage
Posted at 11:28 PM, May 26, 2024

Just before midnight on Saturday, an area of light showers passed over the Omaha metro. On any other night, this would not have been a big deal. However, this area of light showers produced 50-70 mph winds across the Omaha metro. The result was roughly 10,000 people plunged into darkness in Douglas County, many for several hours. Tree and power line damage occurred too. So, how did this area of light rain produce so much wind across Omaha?

It ties back to sinking air caused by a thunderstorm. The rain acts as a coolant on the atmosphere, which makes the cooler and more dense air want to sink toward the ground. Last night, the rain that started to fall began to hit dry air above the ground, and thus the rain started to evaporate. As the rain evaporated, it released energy that only helped to accelerate the sinking air toward the ground. This air hit the ground hard and spread outward, and created those 60-70 mph winds that went through Omaha.