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Holy gust front! Radar shows Texas bats getting blown away by distant storm

A gust front begins to blow away a swarm of millions of bats in south central Texas. (Photo: Chris Suchan via RadarScope Pro)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- A swarm of bats heading out into their nightly adventures in south central Texas Wednesday night got quite the surprise from Mother Nature.

The National Weather Service's Doppler radar picked up signals of a colony of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats leaving the Frio Bat Cave in Uvalde County as a massive thunderstorm raged well to their west, according to meteorologist Chris Suchan with our sister station WOAI-TV in San Antonio.

The intense downdrafts from the thunderstorm's torrential rains created what's known as a gust front -- the boundary where those downdrafts race outward from the thunderstorm.

You can see it all unfold on the radar animation -- the thunderstorm in the far west; the thin line of the gust front and the expanding ring of bats leaving the cave.

And you can see what happens when that line of strong winds hits the colony -- it acts almost like an invisible broom!

It's enough to drive Texas meteorologists, ahem, batty...

"Dual-Pol radar works beautifully to distinguish these bats from rain when storms and the bats are on radar," Suchan said. "Easy to identify the ring signature but on occasion when they're starting to come out, it can look like a storm core until you see the ring show itself as they fan out."