KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – In East Tennessee, you either hear thunderstorm, tornado or sometimes you’ll hear about straight-line winds. And every once in a while, you hear about this word called a microburst.
How to microburst form? Basically, like any thunderstorm, you have a rising air with a warm air surface and colder air aloft creating heavy rain and hail,
Colder air builds in the middle of the storm and continues to get bigger and bigger and bigger until finally, the thunderstorm weakens. And a strong surge of air from the storm hits the ground and spreads out in all directions. That’s the key: it spreads out in all directions. We call those straight-line winds.
In a tornado, damage is twisted and torn. In contrast, straight-line winds are pushed in the straight line.
In a microburst, a downburst hits the ground and pushes everything out in the same direction. The downburst can be a microburst and a macroburst. A microburst is the smaller version. Damage 2.5 miles wide or less is called a microburst. While smaller, damage can be significant.
This article is part of the WATE 6 Storm Weather School.