Weather Talk: High winds were caused by wake low condition
Last Thursday, an area of 50-60 mph winds developed over a large area south of Fargo-Moorhead eastward across parts of Becker and Otter Tail counties. The winds were especially problematic around Minnesota lakes, causing high waves to wash over shorelines.
The wind was caused by a condition known as a wake low. Wake low winds sometimes form in the wake of a squall line. The combination of adjacent areas of warm and and rain-cooled air creates a localized tight pressure field, which makes it windy. Wake low winds usually affect an area the size of two or three counties and last for one to three hours. Winds of 40-60 mph are common but stronger winds are possible.
Wake low events defy National Weather Service storm warning products because they are not associated directly with the thunderstorms that cause them and are of too short a duration and too small in area for a high-wind warning.
They happen most summers somewhere in our region but several years may pass between wake low winds at any one spot. This makes them rare enough to be unfamiliar to the public as well.
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