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WEATHER BLOG: Wake low brings strong winds early Tuesday morning

A weather phenomenon called a wake low produced wind gusts over 60 mph Tuesday morning. But what is a wake low, and how does it form?

Last night, "windy" was a bit of an understatement. These gusty winds woke many Coastal Bend residents Tuesday during the early morning hours. The winds were responsible for loose outdoor items being tossed, downed trees, and numerous power outages. A look at the radar during these hours shows what looks like just some light rain. So then what caused these high winds?

Credit: Kristin Walla
Highest Wind Reports

The highest wind gusts recorded in the Coastal Bend were between 60-65 mph. These reports weren't concentrated to a small area - they took place all around the Coastal Bend, from Orange Grove to Kingsville to a dozen miles north of Refugio. They weren't confined to a short time period either, taking place over the span of a few hours between 1:30-4:00am. 

Credit: Kristin Walla
Coastal Bend Wind Gusts

A weather phenomenon called a wake low produced these widespread 60+ mph wind gusts Tuesday morning. But what exactly is a wake low, and how does it form?

Wake lows are nearly (if not completely) impossible to predict. They occur when the atmospheric pressure drops behind a weakening thunderstorm complex/system. As we saw, they can produce extremely strong winds that can rival straight-line winds seen in severe thunderstorms.

A glance at the radar data from just before 1:30am Tuesday morning shows light rain in the central Coastal Bend, with severe thunderstorms to the south in the Valley. At this time, we saw the first signs of the atmospheric pressure falling, and at 1:33am, Orange Grove measured the highest recorded wind gust of the event at 64 mph.

Recall that wind is the movement of air from high to low atmospheric pressure. In Corpus Christi, the pressure fell 5 mb (millibars) over the course of an hour. While that doesn't seem like a large pressure drop, it's more than enough to cause the 50-60 mph wind gusts we saw.

Credit: Kristin Walla
Tuesday Morning's Wake Low

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