Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the weather system that ultimately spawned a historic December derecho, a windstorm associated with an unusually strong line of thunderstorms that move extremely fast. The system moved from the Southwest to the Upper Midwest on December 15, 2021.
According to NASA, the derecho was spawned by the interaction of a deep-low pressure system over the Northern High Plains and a high-pressure system to the west, which created a tight pressure gradient over the Rocky Mountains that generated fierce winds. The storm produced at least 55 wind gusts that had hurricane force, exceeding 75 miles per hour.
The ferocious weather system kicked up dust storms, tornadoes, wildfires, snow squalls, and intense rainfall across the middle of the U.S. Overall, about 100 millions Americans were under a weather warning of some kind.
In Colorado, wind gusts exceeded 100 miles per hour. Dust storms were triggered in the southeastern part of the state and in western Kansas.
Meanwhile, heat and high winds prompted extreme fire weather warnings as wildfires broke out in Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The image below was captured on December 15 by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NOAA-20 spacecraft.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory