Temperatures soared to near record levels this afternoon and that happened just before strong and at times damaging winds blew through. The wind gusts led to some power outages, and downed trees. The peak measured wind gusts were in the low 50s like in Morehead, Flemingsburg and from the Kentucky Mesonet site in near Carlisle. This is where the wind managed to hit an anemometer. There were likely stronger damaging gusts that took out the trees, but didn't hit a weather instrument.
What was interesting is that many of these damaging gusts happened well away from the parent thunderstorm. The storms erupted and grew quickly in the remarkably hot and humid air that to our west and northwest. This was high powered storm food and these storms became severe quickly, but in the more traditional sense with the damaging wind located near the storms. As the storms came our way, in the hour or 2 just before their arrival the air over us became less humid. It was as potent a storm food, so the storm began collapsing and weakening quickly as they neared the I-75 corridor. As they weakened, all of that weight supported by the tall thunderstorm cloud collapses. This sends out a gush of air known as a downburst. This can race miles ahead of the slow moving storms. The result was sudden increases in wind from basically out of nowhere and for some damaging gusts.
The fuel that kicked off the storms was the incredible heat that settled over Kentucky today. Louisville hit 100 for the first time in a decade. Lexington had a temperature spike just before the wind gusts arrived that took the temperature to near record territory, missing by just a degree. It was during that heat spike that the dew point, the amount of moisture in the air, went down sharply. That's what led to the storm's collapse, and the generation of the gust front.
This is how a radar sees the gust front. Notice how it's several miles ahead of the parent storms. Really interesting stuff tonight.
Tomorrow begins another stretch of lower humidity days, but the summer heat will still be around with highs in the upper 80s.