The Southwest Oklahoma Heat Bursts of May 22-23, 1996
Event Summary 
On the afternoon of May 22, 1996, thunderstorms formed in the southeast Texas Panhandle along the dryline. These storms intensified to severe limits as they propagated to the north and east into southwestern Oklahoma over the next several hours. As the thunderstoms dissipated, they created downdrafts of dry air which warmed as the air descended. These heatbursts produced hot temperatures well after sunset along with damaging winds
  • To recognize unusual patterns in Mesonet data associated with heat bursts. 
  • To understand that significant wind damage can occur in regions not affected by commonly accepted forms of severe weather (e.g., severe thunderstorms and tornadoes). 
  • To properly interpret contour and vector plots of Mesonet data and compare with other formats of Mesonet data like color-filled contours and meteograms. 
  • To become familiar with a sounding. 
Dew Point 
Heat Burst 
Severe Warning Criteria 
Event Data 
Event Wrap-Up 
Click on "Event Data" for a new window with the information needed for the exercise.
Reference Material 
Map of Oklahoma Counties
What Causes Heatbursts from USA Today
Oklahoma Network Captures Heatbursts from USA Today
The 22-23 May 1996 Heatburst: A Severe Wind Event by P. Mackeen, D.L. Andra, Jr., and D.A. Morris (1998).
OK-FIRST Project, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, 100 East Boyd, Suite 1210, Norman, OK 73019
Copyright © 1996-2005 Oklahoma Climatological Survey. All Rights Reserved.
Send comments or questions concerning OK-FIRST to