Wet Microburst Slams Tallahassee

By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne Email
By: Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne Email

Seven-thousand people went to bed in the dark Sunday evening, and some area traffic lights were out of commission Monday morning, all thanks to a small, but powerful storm that rolled through Tallahassee Sunday afternoon.

In a matter of seconds, sheets of rain, bursts of high wind, and chunks of ice descended upon the Tallahassee landscape shortly after 4 o'clock Sunday afternoon.

Meteorologists often refer to this phenomenon as a wet microburst, or a downburst. These microbursts often cover small geographical areas, but can be very destructive. Sunday's cell was no larger than 15 miles in width as it cut a path through Leon and Wakulla counties.

There are special things that favor the formation of microbursts. These include a warm, moist environment near the ground, with some dry air a few thousand feet above us. As rain falls through the dry air, it cools through evaporation. The cool air descends from the storm and spreads out violently as it reaches the ground.

While it's possible for forecasters to find an environment favorable for microbursts, they often form too fast to provide adequate warning.

WCTV Pinpoint Meteorologists use the latest techniques to diagnose these storms, so it's always important to keep up with the daily forecast to see when they are most likely to occur.

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