WeatherTalk: It's been a summer of damaging winds and brief tornadoes

Most of the tornadoes this summer so far have been brief spin-ups briefly forming along the thunderstorm gust front.

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FARGO — Thunderstorms with severe wind gusts have been frequent threats around our region so far this summer. During several of the stormy nights, there have been cases of rather extreme storm gusts, some measured and some estimated, greater than 90 mph.

There have also been a few tornadoes with these storms. Most of the tornadoes this summer so far have been of the QLCS (quasi-linear convective system) variety, which are really just brief spin-ups briefly forming along the leading edge of a thunderstorm gust front, often within a little glitch or hook in the line.

These QLCS tornadoes usually add only a modest enhancement to the already severe thunderstorm gusts in the area, making them difficult to detect. The resulting damage from downburst winds and QLCS tornadoes is often similar. Wind shear in either case can produce huge wind velocity differences over short distances, causing unusual twisting and snapping of structures and trees.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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