Analysis: "What Made The Deadly Thunderstorms In Houston So Violent?"

"Several meteorological ingredients, including record-warm land and ocean temperatures from the Florida Keys to Mexico, helped fuel the destructive storms."

"Texas is no stranger to strong thunderstorms this time of year. It was a confluence of multiple factors, however, that primed the atmosphere for the exceptionally intense storms that blasted the Houston area Thursday evening, killing at least four people, downing trees, cutting power to more than 870,000 customers and blowing out skyscraper windows.

The storms that struck Houston were supercells, particularly dangerous rotating thunderstorms that often produce damaging winds and sometimes tornadoes. Several meteorological ingredients, including a link to this week’s record heat in Florida and possibly to an ocean heat wave, led to the storm producing destructive gusts. Radar imagery indicates that winds reached 125 mph just above the ground at skyscraper level, while there were likely gusts of 95 to 115 mph at the surface.

The storms formed along the northern edge of a heat dome centered over Central America and the Caribbean, which have produced record-high temperatures from South Florida to Mexico. Heat domes are large areas of high pressure that stall for days or weeks at a time."

Dan Stillman and Matthew Cappucci report for the Washington Post May 17, 2024.


"Thunderstorms, Wind and Climate Change: Here’s What to Know" (New York Times)

"Houston Area Grapples With Heat, Power Cuts After Major Storms" (Reuters)

"Some Houston-Area Power Outages Could Last Weeks After Deadly Storms Cause Widespread Damage" (Texas Tribune)

Source: Washington Post, 05/20/2024