GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Have you ever heard of microburst? Surprisingly enough, this weather feature isn’t often heard of, but it can be just as common and as dangerous as a tornado.
Microbursts are created within strong or severe thunderstorms. A wet microburst is a literal downburst of air that falls at the base of a thunderstorm.
Within every thunderstorm, there are two different currents of air — updrafts and downdrafts. Updrafts feed a thunderstorm by pulling in warm moist air whereas downdrafts dispense rain and cooler air at the base of the cloud.
For a microburst to occur, dry air must be passing through the middle of a thunderstorm. With dry air passing through, water droplets that fuel the storm start to evaporate and cool. Once air cools, it begins to sink, and if the environment has just the right conditions below the cloud, a microburst continues to quickly fall through the atmosphere.
This entire process usually takes around 5-10 minutes for a microburst to fall through a storm.
A strong microburst can reach winds as high as 100 mph or more. To put that into perspective, that wind speed is comparable to winds of an EF-1 tornado. Similar damage also occurs such as damage to homes, infrastructure and leveling out fields of trees.
That’s why it is super important to take severe thunderstorm warnings into greater consideration compared to any normal thunderstorm.