Wind Damage >> Microburst Vs Tornado

Major wind damage In Albemarle, Stanly County caused by a Microburst National Weather Service, Raleigh, NC Report prepared on June 14, 2013 A microburst caused by a severe thunderstorm impacted Stanly County, including the city of Albemarle and surrounding areas, Microburst Vs Tornado on Thursday, June 13, 2013. 

The event occurred between 5:35 PM and 5:50 PM EDT. NWS Meteorologists estimate that straight-line wind speeds of 70 to 80 MPH were felt with this storm, which resulted in the widespread downed trees and Microburst Vs Tornado associated damage across the area. What is a Microburst? A microburst is a downdraft (sinking air) in a thunderstorm that is less than 2.5 miles in scale. 

Some microbursts can pose a threat to life and property, but all microbursts pose a significant threat to aviation. Although microbursts are not as widely recognized as tornadoes, they can cause comparable, and Microburst Vs Tornado in some cases worse, damage than some tornadoes produce. In fact, wind speeds as high as 150 mph are possible in extreme microburst cases. 

Radar Data The following two images are radar data from KRAX, covering central North Carolina. The image on the left is 0.5 degree base reflectivity, and Microburst Vs Tornado the image on the right is 0.5 degree base velocity, at 5:38 PM EDT. A "wall of wind” was noted at the leading edge of the storm as indicated by the enhanced inbound velocity values. 

These strong westerly winds, which peaked around 75 mph at 9000 feet above the ground, Microburst Vs Tornado were directed downward toward the ground as the intense precipitation (noted by enhanced reflectivity values on the left) collapsed over Albemarle. These are the key processes that produced the microburst, or damaging straight-line winds, in and near the town of Albemarle. 

The radar images below are from 5:43 PM EDT. Note how the "wall of wind” surged east of Albemarle, in just 5 short minutes from the previous radar scan when it was still west of town. The aforementioned downburst processes continued, and Microburst Vs Tornado additional damage was noted to the east of downtown Albemarle. 

Other considerations for the microburst determination Radar data lacked any evidence of rotation with the storm cell that caused the damage. The radar signatures of drying air and Microburst Vs Tornado enhanced mid level winds intruding on the back side of the storm are commonly seen associated with downburst events. 

This was the case immediately preceding and during this particular event, as noted in the above radar data. The meteorological setup (environment) ahead of the storms favored intense Microburst Vs Tornado downbursts. Trees that are completely uprooted is a common signature of intense straight-line winds. Based on aerial photos, there was no discernible "path” of destruction. 

Rather, the uprooted trees were more scattered in nature, and Microburst Vs Tornado this is a common signature of damaging downburst or straight-line winds. EXTREME WINDS Damage from severe wind accounts for half of all weather damage reports in the lower 48 states and is more common than damage from tornadoes. 

Wind speeds can reach up to 100 mph and Microburst Vs Tornado produce a damage path extending for hundreds of miles. These winds are often called "straight-line" winds to differentiate their damage from tornado damage. Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph. 

Since most thunderstorms produce some straight-line winds as a result of outflow generated by the thunderstorm downdraft, anyone living in Microburst Vs Tornado thunderstorm-prone areas of the world is at risk for experiencing this phenomenon. 

Types of Damaging Winds Straight-line winds – Defines any thunderstorm wind that is not associated with rotation, and Microburst Vs Tornado is used mainly to differentiate from tornadic winds. Downdraft – A small-scale column of air that rapidly sinks toward the ground. A downburst is a result of a strong downdraft. 

Downburst – A strong downdraft with horizontal dimensions larger than 4 km (2.5 mi) resulting in an outward burst of damaging winds on or Microburst Vs Tornado near the ground. (Imagine the way water comes out of a faucet and hits the bottom of the sink.) Downburst winds may begin as a microburst and spread out over a wider area, sometimes producing damage similar to a strong tornado. 

Although usually associated with thunderstorms, downbursts can occur with showers too Microburst Vs Tornado weak to produce thunder. Microburst – A small, concentrated downburst that produces an outward burst of damaging winds at the surface. Microbursts are generally small (less than 4km across) and short-lived, lasting only 5-10 minutes, with maximum wind speeds up to 168 mph. 

There are two kinds of microbursts: wet and dry. A wet microburst is accompanied by heavy precipitation at the surface. Dry microbursts, common in places like Microburst Vs Tornado the high plains and the intermountain west, occur with little or no precipitation reaching the ground. Gust front – A gust front is the leading edge of rain-cooled air that clashes with warmer, thunderstorm inflow. 

Gust fronts are characterized by a wind shift, a temperature drop, and Microburst Vs Tornado gusty winds out ahead of a thunderstorm. Sometimes the winds push air above them, forming a shelf cloud or detached roll cloud. 

Derecho – A derecho is a widespread, thunderstorm wind caused when new thunderstorms form along the leading edge of an outflow boundary (a surface boundary formed by the Microburst Vs Tornado horizontal spreading of thunderstorm-cooled air). The thunderstorms feed on this boundary and continue to reproduce themselves. 

The word "derecho" is of Spanish origin and means "straight ahead." Derechos typically occur in the summer months, when complexes of thunderstorms form over the plains states. Usually these thunderstorms produce heavy rain and Microburst Vs Tornado severe winds as they rumble across several states during the night. 

They are particularly dangerous because the damaging winds can last a long time and cover such a large area. Bow Echo – A radar echo that is linear, but bent outward in a bow shape. Damaging straight-line winds often occur near the "crest" or Microburst Vs Tornado the center of a bow echo. Bow echoes can be over 300km in length, last for several hours, and produce extensive swaths of wind damage at ground level.

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