MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - While the Tornado Threat across the United States shifts away from the deep south and into the Great Plains region, we are not out of the woods with damaging storms.
In this episode of The Breakdown, we explain the phenomena known as Microbursts and why these summer storms can do so much damage.
First let’s talk about the typical thunderstorm setup. In a developing thunderstorm you need a strong updraft to help build the storm structure.
Heavy rain and hail will build into the storm along with colder air aloft. As that happens, the updraft will begin to weaken.
Once the storm weakens, a strong surge of air from the storm will then hit the ground, usually spreading in all directions, this is known as a downburst.
You can usually tell this is happening by a quick gust of wind followed by a rush of cooler air as it’s pushing the warmer air away.
These downburst really need to be watched, as not only could they do damage to trees, roofs and places on the ground, they could cause issues for planes flying in the sky.
In fact, downbursts can cause strong tailwinds on planes, making the plane go into an abrupt altitude change. This could be devastating, if this occurs during take off or landing maneuvers.
The micro part of microburst, just indicates its size. If the downburst is around 2.5 miles wild or less, then it is called a microbust.
For any downburst that exceeds 2.5 miles, that is given the name macroburs, just meaning it is impacting a larger area.