Microburst reported in Georgetown — what is it?

Weather Blog

GEORGETOWN (KXAN) — You may have seen the video of the strong winds out of a thunderstorm in Georgetown Wednesday. If you haven’t, check out the video above of a reported microburst in Central Texas.

Viewers in Georgetown reported that the automatic doors at a Best Buy were blown off their tracks due to these strong thunderstorm winds, tree leaves and limbs littered some neighborhood roadways, and an RV was even blown onto its side. There have not been any reports of injuries thus far.

Radar screenshot of the storm over Georgetown at 4:28 p.m., when the video above was taken.

What is a Microburst?

A microburst is a localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm and is usually less than or equal to 2.5 miles in diameter. Microbursts can cause extensive damage at the surface, and in some instances, can be life-threatening. There are two primary types of microbursts: 1) wet microbursts and 2) dry microbursts. Wet microbursts are accompanied by significant precipitation and are common in the Southeast during the summer months.

Thunderstorm

What causes a Microburst?

It all starts with the development of a thunderstorm and the water droplets/hailstones being suspended within the updraft.  Sometimes an updraft is so strong it suspends large amounts of these droplets and hailstones in the upper portions of the thunderstorm. There are many factors that can lead to evaporational cooling (sinking air) and therefore weakening of the updraft. Once this occurs, it is no longer capable of holding the large core of rain/hail up in the thunderstorm. As a result, the core plummets to the ground. As it hits the ground it spreads out in all directions. The location in which the microburst first hits the ground experiences the highest winds and greatest damage.

Thunderstorm

Microburst Damage

Wind speeds in microbursts can reach up to 100 mph, or even higher, which is equivalent to an EF-1 tornado. Winds this high can cause major damage to homes and other structures and level hundreds of trees.

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