What is a Microburst? - An explainer

'What is a Microburst?

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A microburst is defined as a localized column of sinking air within a thunderstorm. During these events, winds can reach a maximum speed of 100 mph which is as strong as an EF-1 tornado.

What causes a Microburst?

Within a thunderstorm, there is an updraft of winds that sustains the storm and holds water droplets and hail high in the thunderstorm cloud. Sometimes dry air can get in the updraft which causes evaporative cooling which in turn weakens the updraft.

As a result, the water droplets and hail being held up by the updraft plummets to the ground. This causes a rush of air to hit the ground and then spread in multiple directions. Where the air hits the ground is where the strongest winds and most damages occur.

The setup conducive for microburst is most commonly seen in the southeast during the summer months.

What happened Monday?

A thunderstorm southwest of Columbus gained strength around 7:30 p.m.ET and moved northeast and slowed over the Midtown area of Columbus.

The microburst happened around 7:45 p.m. ET and caused extensive damage to Midtown and Lakebottom houses, downed trees and power lines and caused the widespread power outage in the area.

The winds were estimated by the NWS to be 70 to 75 mph.

What to do now?

Send any damage reports or pictures into our Facebook page or email them to pix@wtvm.com.

Also, be mindful of any other storms that pop-up during the summer months. They can be very dangerous with damaging winds, brief heavy rainfall, and frequent lightning. Seek shelter inside away from the storms and always monitor weather conditions if you're going to be outside.

You can get watches, warnings and the latest radar on our free WTVM Weather mobile app.

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