Spring and Summertime storms can bring heavy rain, lightning and gusty winds! Often, these gusty winds are due to microbursts or downbursts that occur in the storms.
These microbursts occur as air rises and cools in the storms. In the mid level of a storm, there is sometimes dry air in place. As the air rises and cools, a process known as evaporative cooling takes place. This causes the air to become cooler, and more dense. This denser air is harder for the storm to keep inside of it.
Once it becomes too heavy and the storm can’t keep it aloft anymore, it crashes to the surface in the form of strong gusty winds. These winds then spread out, and can down trees, power lines and blow around objects. Think of it like a water balloon hitting the ground- the water spreads out and goes in a circle. Same thing for the microburst!
Sometimes the damage from these microbursts can resemble weak tornadoes. Winds will often be in the range of 50-60 mph but can get up to 100+ mph in the strongest microbursts.
To forecast these microbursts, meteorologists will look aloft in the storm to find out if there is a “core” aloft in the storm. If this core is above a certain level, forecasters may issue a Severe T-storm Warning.