The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 18, 2013

Heat burst creates high wind, resulting in accidents, fires, power outages

Staff reports
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A heat burst that hit in the area resulted in a multi-vehicle pileup east of Enid at about 9 p.m. Saturday and also sent an Enid Police Department officer to the hospital with possible head injuries in a seperate incident.

Enid Police Chief Brian O’Rourke said EPD officer Lee Friesendahl was on his way to work when high winds hit his patrol vehicle, blowing out windows, at 66th and U.S. 412 at about 9 p.m. Saturday,

He was transported to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center by Life EMS ambulance, with multiple cuts from flying glass.

First reports from the scene of a multi-vehicle pileup near 162nd and U.S. 412 indicated dust blowing from a field reduced the visibility to zero and caused the collision. However, officials at the scene reported no one was injured.

According to Mike Honigsberg, certified director of Enid/Garfield County Emergency Management, a heat burst created winds in excess of 70 mph. A 67 mph wind gust was recorded at the Lahoma Mesonet site, and wind was gusting over 50 mph continuously south of Lahoma for nearly two hours, based on data from that site, according to Honisberg, who cited the National Weather Service with the information. Honigsberg said conditions were better around 10:15 p.m.

VIDEO: HIGH WINDS CAUSE BLOWING DUST AT 162ND & U.S. 412

Vance Air Force Base recorded wind at 71 mph, according to Honigsberg, and home weather centers across the county said they were recording wind gusts even higher.

The wind sparked at least two minor grass fire near Lahoma and Bison and several power outages in Enid, Hennessey, Drummond, Lahoma and the surrounding countryside. Rural fire departments were able to control the fires. There were several reports of downed power lines and trees in Enid and the county.

Honigsberg said the wind was caused when the temperature jumped from 81 degrees at 8:15 p.m. to 90 degrees by 8:40 p.m. At the same time, Honigsberg said the dew point fell from 70 to 43 degrees. Heat bursts are characterized by changes in atmospheric pressure that creates high wind, rising temperatures and lowering dewpoints.

“Everything went crazy,” he said.

At about 9:45 p.m. OG&E System Watch indicated 117 customers were without power in Enid due to the high winds, and another 52 in Drummond, 74 in Lahoma and 80 in Hennessey.

Honigsberg said late Saturday that showers would continue overnight, with a chance for severe weather firing up again Sunday.

NWS calls for a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 8 a.m., then a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Some of the storms could be severe. Otherwise, skies will be mostly sunny, with a high near 90 and south wind at 18 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.