Southwest Illinois had a pretty neat little mesoscale feature pass through this morning - a wake low. Right before 3am we had a significant pressure drop of about 7mb over the course of 15 minutes with 5mb falling in 1 minute (which is highlighted in the graph below from my weather station). That was quickly followed by strong wind gusts - I peaked at 36mph here at the house but I've seen reports of 60mph just across the river in Missouri.
So what is a wake low and what caused it to happen? A wake low is an area of lower pressure that we typically see on the backside of a squall line or in stratiform rain (much like we got this morning as you can see in the radar screenshot below). It appears as though the rain-cooled air built up a small region of higher pressure (several millibars higher than the surrounding air) as it moved through the area creating a strong pressure gradient over a short distance. Since nature is always working to be in equilibrium, that sharp of a pressure gradient is unsustainable. Eventually, this pressure bubble 'burst' in and when it did, it sent out a rush of strong winds that prompted numerous damage and high wind reports across the St. Louis metro and southwestern IL.
If you have any questions, inquiries or suggestions, feel free to shoot us a message! We'll be happy to help. - Billy
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