All Weather News

Explaining Straight Line Winds

8 Jul 2020, 7:00 pm

When there’s a threat for severe thunderstorms for your area, the most common danger is straight-line winds, also known as downbursts.

The process starts with air rising within the strong updraft of a storm.  It then cools, condenses, and as a result tiny drops of water form.

The droplets increase in size and then combine with others, eventually becoming too heavy.  Then, these droplets fall toward the surface within a pocket of cold air.

After the air hits the ground, it compresses and forces the winds to increase very quickly outward sometimes exceeding 165 miles per hour!

Damaging winds come in many different forms including small scale microbursts, broad spanning derechos, and even haboobs associated with drier thunderstorms.

Downbursts are different from winds associated with a tornado.  Instead of winds flowing out of the storm, with a tornado winds flow into it.  After the storm, local national weather service offices will conduct storm surveys to look for circulation to determine if it was a straight line wind event or a tornado.

But remember – it’s not the wind itself that can be deadly, it is what is in the wind that’s dangerous.  That’s why it’s always important to stay weather aware and be prepared whenever severe weather threatens your community.



About the author
Meredith is a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist as designated by the American Meteorological Society.  She was born and raised in Cleveland but has worked from coast to coast covering almost every type of weather.  Meredith is a weather, space, and STEM journalist and has been live out in the field during destructive tropical storms on the Gulf Coast of Florida, raging wildfires in Southern Cali... Load Morefornia, and covered the wreckage from tornadoes in the Great Plains. In 2009, she reported on the damaging hail storm during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and in 2017, the historic California winter storms that produced record rain totals and devastating flash flooding.  Prior to joining WeatherNation, Meredith worked at KEYT/KKFX in Santa Barbara, CA, KOTA-TV in Rapid City, SD, WWSB-TV in Sarasota, FL, and began her career as an intern at WGN-TV in Chicago.  She was Santa Barbara's "Favorite Weathercaster of the Year" in 2016 and the Community Partner of the Year in 2017 for her volunteer work with Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties and awarded with the 2018 Valparaiso University Alumni Association First Decade Achievement Award. Meredith is the current chair of the American Meteorological Society's Station Scientist Committee, which focuses on raising greater awareness & outreach when it comes to science education for viewers.  She's also an accomplished journalist, producing weather and science stories including rocket launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the new GOES-16 satellite and it's impacts on weather forecasting.  Meredith was personally invited by NASA's Johnson Space Center to interview astronauts on the International Space Station and was the only meteorologist in the nation to do an exclusive report accompanying the GOES-West satellite from Colorado to Florida, reporting on and covering it's launch in 2018.  Meredith's also worked on features that took her paragliding along the coast, white water rafting in Northern California, learning to surf in the Pacific Ocean, and how to be an aerial photographer while flying a single engine plane! Say hi on Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn!

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