A rare weather phenomenon called a heat burst occurred in Russell County Tuesday evening.
“It occurred at around four minutes after six or so last night,” said Meteorologist Dan Holiday. “A heat burst is actually a collapsing thunderstorm. When a
thunderstorm is decaying, these can occur.”
Holiday explains that the air coming down from the dying storm causes the heat burst.
“When the thunderstorm starts to decay and it’s way up high, the air actually drops considerably because it’s denser than the warmer air around it,” said Holiday.
“The cooler air rides a rollercoaster. It goes down quickly because it’s too heavy to stay in the atmosphere. Anytime air falls that fast all the way down, it warms
as it falls. It also dries as well, too.”
The rapid drop can cause major effects on the ground. Two semitrailers were blown over in Russell County Tuesday night.
“The higher up it is, the stronger the wind gusts can be at the surface, like what we saw yesterday with 72 mile-per-hour winds, once it starts to move out,” said
Holiday. “This thunderstorm, we think, was collapsing in Ellis County, so it caused the winds to blow out at a high rate of speed into Russell County last night.”
Westbound I-70 was closed for about an hour and a half while law enforcement and tow trucks uprighted the semitrailers.