Opinions on Downburst

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A downburst is a strong ground-level wind system that emanates from a single source, blowing in a straight line in all directions from that source. Often producing damaging winds, it may be confused with a tornado, but is actually quite different: In a tornado, high velocity winds circle a central point, moving inward and upward whereas in a downburst, winds are directed downward and then outward from the surface landing point.

Downbursts are created by an area of significantly rain-cooled air that, after reaching ground level, spreads out in all directions producing strong winds. Dry downbursts are associated with thunderstorms with very little rain, while wet downbursts are created by thunderstorms with high amounts of rainfall. Microbursts and macrobursts are downbursts at very small and larger scales respectively. Another variety, the heat burst, is created by vertical currents on the backside of old outflow boundaries and squall lines where rainfall is lacking. Heat bursts generate significantly higher temperatures due to the lack of rain-cooled air in their formation. Downbursts create vertical wind shear or microbursts, which is dangerous to aviation.


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